New York - The year is not yet over and ace arranger and master musician Clive Bradley is still hard at work, but loving it - 2005 - that is. When Steel Talks checked in with the man who has been enjoying success in good measure since April 16. That was when Desperadoes Steel Orchestra took first place in the Pan In the 21st Century competition in Trinidad and Tobago.
Bradley continued to bask in glory for the 2005 New York Panorama competition when the two bands he arranged for, Pantonic Steel Orchestra and D'Radoes Steel Orchestra, took first and second place honors respectively.
And just one week ago in Pan Trinbago's Republic Pan Fiesta, Desperadoes again took away the top prize in the Northern Region leg of the event, playing a Bradley arrangement of Natasha Wilson's One Day. As he jokingly said during the interview, "I could get used to that [the winning streak]!"
So is the versatile arranger taking a breather? Not on the schedule - because Desperadoes has another performance coming up this weekend - and that means Clive Bradley is in the process of pulling out yet another masterpiece from his arranger's hat. The Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan Jazz Festival (formerly Pan Royale) runs from October 22 - 29, and Desperadoes perform on the opening night. Veteran jazz performer Al Jarreau and master calypsonian David Rudder are scheduled to appear as well.
So this week at least, for Clive Bradley it is work as usual, as he creates yet another version of one of his own compositions, a piece he did in calypso tempo in 1982 called Party Tonight, performed by Lord Nelson. The difference this time around is the genre - the jazz idiom.
"It's the first time I've had to do something in that field [for a steel orchestra] - jazz...Of course I'm accustomed to playing jazz on keyboards and stuff like that, but I'm not used to doing jazz with the bands." Bradley went on to say that he had arranged Party Tonight in the calypso tempo five or six times previously, but always wanted to do it in a jazz-waltz tempo. "...I always try to look for something different" the ever-evolving master musician said matter-of-factly. Having articulated previously his desire for the versatility and beauty of the pan instrument to take center stage in other media besides those of competitions, the musician welcomed the performance platform to showcase his work this time around, instead of the almost constant-competitive arena for which he is generally called upon.
Asked about 2006 Panorama activity, and having himself heard nothing yet, the arranger said "It's like the calm before the storm; nobody's saying anything...everybody's very quiet."
For now though, the focus is firmly on this weekend's unique performance. Expect the girls and guys from the hills of Laventille, Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, to once again do full justification to Bradley's musical vision, come Saturday at the opening night of the Steelpan Jazz festival taking place at the grounds of the Queen's Royal College, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, W.I.
C. Phillips, Basement
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