Hell No, The Beat Is Not Gone - Ray Holman’s New CD “FIRST LOVE” Keeps The Music Going

It’s Celebration time for Ray’s first love, PAN 

by Dalton Narine

I feel pretty, now that I’ve flirted with Holman’s take on his lover boy spin about Pan, the new world’s glorious instrument.

Ray Holman - Arranger, Composer, Educator
Ray Holman

Holman lights a fire under the instrument and bun them with beautiful music from a panist extraordinaire. Himself, actually.

No wonder Holman’s brand is his beat.

The beats come alive early as the day he’d turned 12 at Belmont Intermediate, and ripened throughout his education at Queen’s Royal College.

“It was the true love I had for Pan,” Holman recalls. “Total dedication.”

Focused as he was for his love for music, it didn’t take long before the young Holman was a maestro in his own right and had mastered several instruments, including the guitar.

He’d derive ideas, style or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources that provide an eclectic mix of his music.

Hear how the Pan moves with such excitement that one is gracious for the upliftment of this relatively new and pompous instrument.

Holman makes us happy when we’re sad. All you’ve got to do is listen.

“Take in Sad Song for a Pan Man, a tribute to those panists who had recently passed.” says musician Gaston Malone. “Another good piece from the Master a truly beautiful composition, tastefully performed.”

Gaston grew up listening to classical music on 78s.  

“For example,” Gaston adds, “likewise it shows Ray’s exposure, say, to “West Side Story,” seeing the possibility in the song, I Feel Pretty. “And appreciation, too, of the different genres of music.”  

To this day, the further we regurgitate this song from its stomach, the more it ads a dimension to the sauce. It’s why Holman’s West Side Jouvert Jam was so loved.


I feel stunning
And entrancing,
Feel like running and dancing for joy,
For I'm loved
By a pretty wonderful boy!  

That, too, is Holman’s early panoramic J’Ouvert view of Pan. 

Now, how to pull off this grand love affair with the instrument to the World?  

Holman didn’t just stand there musing about the future of the Ping Pong. Rather, his shadow fell on Pan, his sweetheart, a new world with good music.  

Considering its eventual history in Jazz, song, dance and Panorama, even more so, Pan became a substantial factor in cause and coursing.

A cause for rejoicing, as on the savannah grass.

And, coursing beneath the polished surface of his instrument of love might have been something deeper, darker and, well, defiant.

Now, it is cause and respond. Shucks, Holman needed to vent his ideology on the instrument — the study of the nature and origin of ideas.

He came to the inescapable conclusion that he was responsible for, in a way, the fact of Pan’s life, his theme, returning in a kind of a coda, as in the end of a dance.

Love is all he needs. And, shoot, he gets it.

In 1998, Holman taught at The University of Washington in Seattle.

Five years later, Holman got a peek at his dream. On a ride to a gig in Denver, Colorado, he felt an urge to write something about Trinidad & Tobago.

Sweet Island Memories” popped up, thanked him for the melody.

“Pan was indeed my first love,” he tells. “And now, it is plain to see that this relationship with the instrument was meant to be.

“It speaks about how beautiful Pan music can be.”

Sample the title track “First Love”

T’was set in lyric poetry: the Jab Jab, Kitchener in the Tent. The Poui flourishing in the Savannah; Calabash and Invaders on the road, etc.

First thing back home he called Dennis Franklyn Williams aka Merchant, the calypsonian.

They wrote the songs in a week.

Holman was moved to ask Merchant how he was able to write the lyrics to his melodies so easily.

Well, because Merchant had been at the Starlift panyard so often that he kept on going every night, drawn to the music like magnet. To wit, the following comes to mind.

Holman had arranged 17 tunes during a Carnival season, Merchant recollected, and the music had a huge impact on him, reshaping his style of writing over the years.

“That’s how I was influenced by his style,” Holman reminds. “So, it was easy to do.”

There was that synergy between them that blended well.

Holman: “I saw that he put himself in my place. I am pleased to release the album.”

Holman recalls his spending much time to write the lyrics for Sweet Island Memories, before sharing it with Winsford Devine, the guru of Calypso writing.

Devine, Holman lets on, only changed one word.

“A perfect song,” Devine added, bestowing gratification on Holman.

Could it be that Holman now had found yet a deeper Love for Pan?

That he’d revel in the career essentials for placing Pan at a higher musical level? To share the motivations behind his wondrous words and reasons behind his new Love. More Love?

“The whole CD is therapeutic, soothing, acoustic,” is how Holman’s work relates to the science of sound.

A good buy.


Some lines that bode well for Holman:

Any part of the world I go, they want to know. Pan is irresistible.

What’s causing the harmony? Magic in the atmosphere.

The music leaves you in amazement.

Blood on the Street; it’s gotta end (Pan on the Run)

Big fight Carnival Tuesday night

Months of hard work that you end up broke

Pan’s a treasure; ah fus you nice, Pan

A tribute to heroes of the nation Calypsonians gone, ambassadors’ music for the nation

Sapna the Dream’ (marries love with Pan) a Boss song to listen to again and again

More Lagniappe

Pan’s now a worldly rite of communion and communication. Big up, also, to our own boys and girls flaunting and trumpeting the music in the yards, the districts, wherever dancers come to hear the youths pan dem.

Also, much appreciative of our great pioneers and icons. Ray Holman seems to have reset the tone, from the secret love of the Ping Pong to Pan’s maddening love around the world.

The CD is currently only available by calling Trinidad & Tobago (868) 709-2323 or in the US (347) 988-7597.

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Dalton Narine
About the author, Dalton Narine

Dalton Narine is a Belmont-born Trinidadian who dabbled in the arts and wrote about Trinidad & Tobago culture. He spent the other half of his career as a filmmaker and TV broadcaster during T&T’s annual Carnival. Narine is an avid collector of calypsos by The Mighty Shadow, a singer, he says, who had a knack for telling stories on himself and his own country that, at last, has embraced him.

contact Dalton Narine at: narain67@gmail.com

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