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Steelpan Jazz At New York's Lincoln Center - R. Pope

Last year New York was the host to a highly successful, major Father's Day steelpan jazz show at Lincoln Center.  The show was produced by Abstract Entertainment, Inc. (AEI) and anchored by such notables as Lenny Green of the popular New York mega station 98.7 Kiss FM, Jazz staple WBGO 88.3 FM, Macy's, Budweiser and other prominent sponsors.  AEI embarked on a marketing and business strategy that has carved out and identified a lucrative untapped market in addition to showcasing the global popularity and musical performance versatility of the instrument .

The high-level musical performances by the artists and near capacity crowd were fantastic. The upscale, sophisticated audience reflected the diverse changing economic, social and cultural landscape of New York city's population and age.  One of the great successes of the show was the ability of AEI to attract an audience to Alice Tully Hall and the Jazz genre that Lincoln Center does not have access to under its current marketing and advertising strategies.

This Father's Day  New York will again be the host for a major steelpan music production as the World Steelpan Music Festival will be held at the world famous Madison Square Garden.  The event is expected to be very successful and Pan Trinbago gets to execute a major production in a large market.  Indeed the expectations are very high.

New York Pan (Big Bands)
Rather than waste anytime on the entities and things that plague the forward progress of NY steelpan movement we will focus on what's going right. If you must know what is wrong just visit our past reviews below.  It's the same old same-o - as the mindless, bumbling, no-can-do, selfish, ignorant, self-promoting, no talent bums are still around creating havoc.  Simply put, if they left tomorrow we would not miss them and NY pan would get better simply by their subtraction from the scene.

On the other hand there are those who thanklessly and anonymously continue to nurture the movement through their blood, sweat and tears behind the scenes.  And to them we will be forever grateful.

New York pan - intelligent, young, talented, vibrant and forward-thinking - remains the most awesome steelpan music scene outside of Trinidad.  While it has failed miserably at realizing its potential, it continues to thrive in an ever-increasing hostile environment.  Like the pan instrument, its existence (New York Pan) is simultaneously illogical and magical.

The groups continue to grow in size as the major bands can easily field 90 to 100 players for panorama.  Even the once smaller groups have gotten quite large in size as their popularity and performance skills rise. 

The Players
The face of NY pan is changing dramatically.  The young people understand how to market themselves - as a few of the groups have their own website, and offer their recordings as a source of generating additional income.  This internet savvy has connected them to the global steelpan community - a real and tangible way that has generated opportunities.  They are indeed up to the challenge of taking NY pan to a new level.

Many in the NY pan community have serious career aspirations that are related to the steelpan instrument, and in fact, there are those that are determined to earn their livelihoods - solely by the instrument, and have made steps in that direction.   Many of the bands have their home-grown virtuosos, who are now about to enter/graduate college, or are in some professional relationship with the instrument as a instructor, arranger, writer or manufacturer of the instruments.  They are determined to avoid the pitfalls and frustration of past NY talents who have traveled  this path.

Of course there are the countless others who come out seasonally just for the joy of playing pan and making beautiful music.

Some folks to look out for - -Monster arranging and performance talent and ability in the new guard... Sheldon Elcock, Qhuent Rose, Arddin Herbert, Freddie Harris, III, Andy Akiho, Kareem Thompson, Sherwin Thwaite, Knolly 'Nikki' Nicholas, Iman Pascall, Keith Roberts, Curt Rogers, Orisha John, Jelanie Fernando, Lyndon Spencer, Collin Jackman, Nicholas Mohan, Sade Constantine, Andre White, among many many others.

In a nutshell, the reigning NY associations have not done anything of significance since 2001 when the initial USSA regime rocked the pan world and showed so much promise and potential.  The current associations have been living off the fumes of that original group/incarnation ever since, and is nothing more than a single-event operation (panorama).  Until they can negotiate prize monies that total over 1 million dollars (which pales in comparison, considering what the bands themselves put out financially, and also, the many, many millions (over 100 million dollars conservatively reported) that the city recoups -  these associations cannot ever be taken  seriously at that.  These associations have yet to define themselves as  unions/players' associations, promoters and/or executive producers, but they cannot be all three.  These groups in particular should only be allowed to wear one hat, if the New York steelband community is to benefit and be fairly represented.  Let's see if - just for starters - they can get the city to let the bands practice this summer without interruption and harassment, and certainly past the rumored but ridiculous shut-down time of 11:00 PM nightly - no exceptions.

Education/Performing Arts
The steelpan instrument is growing in popularity within the public school system.  From college to K-12 there has been an explosion in interest in the instrument, and it is rapidly being added to curricula.  New York is looking very good in this department.

Sometimes they are their own worst enemy.  However they have managed, and continue, to navigate through unknown territory without a friend, blueprint, map or manual in an extremely, ever-increasing hostile environment.  It is only through their extreme sacrifice and love for the steelpan instrument and culture that these steel orchestras have continued to exist.

New York Pan -- ADLIB, Harlem All Stars, Pan Rebels, Moods Pan Groove, Metro, CASYM, Pantonic, Sonatas, Despers USA, Marsicans, Utopia Pan Soul:  The Next Generation, Women In Steel, Harmony, CYP, Dem Stars, D'Radoes, Crossfire, Pan Phonics, Ambassadors, NY Nutones, Sesame Flyers, Steel Sensation, Calvary Steel and more.

New York Pan - much more than just panorama...


more news see performances of New York bands  


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