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Cyril Darceuil of Casablanca Steelband Passes

by Selwyn Henry

Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - The sun has set on the physical presence of a Casablanca Icon. On Christmas day Cyril Darceuil at 92 years quietly ceased to be part of our physical space. He will be remembered by those who knew him as a contributor to the musical experience of the Casablanca Steelband. His slim sartorial presence was accentuated by the 15-inch skirt of his second Pan which was always freshly painted. The master steelpan player’s instrument was completed with a highly polished, well-crafted surface with indentations forming the musical notes. Cyril appreciated and praised the work of skilled pan-maker Randopth ‘Croppy’ Simmonds who created the instrument he used to express his musical talents.

This self-taught musician led the harmonic expressions of the single pan Casablanca steelband. He joined the second generation of Casablanca members on Argyle Street under Brown Boy’s parlour in close proximity to their first bamboo tent yard. This steelband collective led by Oscar Pile had created musical history mixing voices with the steelpan instrument, recording and performing European classics among other accomplishments which earned for them a well-deserved page in the history of the steelband movement. Cyril introduced chords and counter melodies that sometimes frustrated and embarrassed the more accomplished musical arranger Art De Coteau who was the established musical director of the band.

Cyril Darceuil
Cyril Darceuil
That early period of steelband history is marked not only by the musical innovations of which Casablanca and Cyril were an integral part, but the period is also characterized by the implosive violence which accompanied the birth of the movement. Casablanca’s formidable fighting forces also made its mark in this arena but Cyril did not. He embodied the major contradiction that was central to the steelband movement of the 40s and 50s in particular the East-West divide. He lived in East Dry River (EDR) and Newtown alternately but was never part of the battles waged between the two major combatants Invaders and Casablanca. His engaging personality, social skills, and general good-naturedness won him life long friends across the battle lines and allowed him to move easily between warring districts.

The Casablanca family, his partner Joycelyn, his children Gloria, Danny and Tony, and his brothers Tony and Michael will treasure the memory of this quiet, distinguished steelband icon.

Homage and image:  Selwyn Henry

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