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Ian Jones: from Pan Man to Social Service Administrator, and back

Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - Days to go before Pan Alive (Toronto’s version of the Trinidad and Tobago’s Annual Steelband Panorama) Hollis Clifton made a valiant and successful attempt to interview Ian Jones, Musical Director of Panatics Steelband for a live feed on WACK Radio 90.1FM on Pan Diaspora hosted by Clifton.

The musical outfit which was founded by Leonard Noel in 1991 was rather busy going through their final rehearsal drills at Barbados Boulevard, Scarborough, Toronto, with Ian in full command.

Ian Jones at drill session
Ian Jones at drill session

In response to a question from Clifton on his background in music, Ian, a founder/programme Director of OSA (Ontario Steelpan Association) revealed that he was self-taught prior to studying piano with Olga Lamb in Toronto. He further pursued a correspondence course from Berkley School of Music in 1980.

Ian, a career Social Service Administrator, has also been a Director of Covenant House Toronto (CHT) where he adapted a Sustainable Profit Improvement model from the for-profit sector to a Sustainable Surplus Improvement for CHT. This model was used to drive the company’s revised Strategic Directions. He further initiated the Rights of Passage transitional housing program for homeless youth seeking transition from living in crisis shelters to successful independent living in the community.  Jones threw in the towel at Covenant House Toronto in December 2007 as Director of Special Program Services.  Covenant House is the largest International Youth Care Agency with 21 programs:  15 - US, 4 - Central America and 2 - Canada.

Ian Jones at drill session

As a Musician/Educator Jones pioneered the introduction of steelpan programs for credit in Toronto’s North York high school and also created and directed the production of an instructional video for the Toronto District School Board steelpan programs.

As part of the steelpan community in Toronto, he was a member of the team that created and implemented the 1997 concept of a Pan Alive Event that has now become an institution in Caribana.  Jones, the culture vulture, has also penned calypsos that won the Calypso Monarch of Canada Competition on six occasions and was voted one of the top calypso arrangers in 1997. He has composed and produced the sound track for “A Cat and A Dog”, a conflict resolution play for K- Grade 3 children, as well as music for the theatre production of “Sweet Pan” by We Are One Theatre.

Afropan, Rhapsody, Silhouettes, St. Jamestown Youth and the Church of Nativity Steelband Programme have all benefited from his musical direction.

Panatics preparing for Pan Alive 2010
Panatics preparing for Pan Alive 2010

At Pan Alive 2010, Ian Jones’ arrangement of Edwin Pouchet & Alvin Daniell’s “Battle Zone” landed Panatics Steelband Network in a third-place tie with Afropan. Even though he lamented the performance of the group, he nonetheless felt it was great encouragement for the youngsters, many of whom were playing at this level for the first time.

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to nation-building, Mr. Jones received many awards inclusive of:

2009 Caribana Tribute Award
2006 OCPA Past President Award
Pan Artists Network, Toronto – Pioneer Award
1997 Canada’s Best Calypso Arranger
1996 Raphael Passey Award for outstanding contribution to the development of Steel Pan in Canada, awarded by Coffee Boys, Toronto
1992 Award of Merit, City of Toronto, for outstanding contribution to the quality of life in the City

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by Hollis Clifton



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