New York, New York, USA - With the backdrop of concrete, steel and green, green, grass the Kendall Williams-led steel ensemble, Pan In Motion drops the world premiere of his Carnegie Hall–commissioned composition “To Jam too.”
Pan in Motion at with Asphalt Orchestra at Bryant Park
Accompanying Pan In Motion on this hot, hot, hot 90 degrees in the shade day in New York, Manhattan’s Bryant Park, is marching band Asphalt Orchestra. This May 22 live performance is part of the Carnegie Hall Citywide summer concert series.
Pulitzer award-winning composer Julia Wolfe - Carnegie Hall’s Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair for the 2021–2022 season - curated this final event in the series performances. Carnegie Hall Citywide is her brainchild.
Having experienced Kendall’s compositions and arrangements in the past in different settings, they always present an immersive experience for the listeners/audience. Never straight down the middle or locked down to the rails. His works tend to embrace themes that define the human condition and evoke an expressive response.
Melodic, funky and engaging, “To Jam too” with its infectious groove had an immediate positive resonance with the audience which resulted in singing, clapping, stomping feet, bopping heads and smiling faces. Indeed, there is absolutely no doubt that had the combined bands of Pan in Motion and Asphalt Orchestra left the park and “jammed” up 6th Avenue the audience would have followed marching, chipping and dancing behind them like if it was J’Ouvert morning in New Orleans, the Caribbean, Panama - not to mention the drum and bugle corps events of Brooklyn or the Bronx and Chicago years ago.
Kyle Struve, Percussion and Chris Eddleton, Bass Drum -- of Asphalt Orchestra at Bryant Park
With the rhythmic underpinnings of James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” instant subliminal cultural recognition is in full effect. From ragtime to soul to hip hop - the elements are omnipresent. And in this regard Kyle Struve, Percussion; Chris Eddleton, Bass Drum combined are straight-up monsters. But the MVP is no doubt Keifer Dover holding it down on double guitar with a warm unmistakable classic Desperadoes Steel Orchestra strum. So smooth, he sounds like a Hammond B3 organ providing chordial reference while moving down the road. “To Jam too” is filled with constant celebratory movements.
Keifer Dover on double guitar with Pan in Motion at Bryant Park
The amalgamated mixture of sounds of a marching band and steelbands is not familiar to many of New York’s residents. However, particularly in Brooklyn, where many of America’s greatest marching bands once called home, and the presence of large steel orchestras was a common fixture in black neighborhoods - the mixed sound of brass, woodwind and steel instruments is indeed an interesting combination. The harmonic content and voicings are unique - six-bass and tuba - / guitar pan and trombone - / second pan and tenor sax - / tenor pan and soprano sax. The first - and for many, the only - access to an instrument or music training sometimes is through a community steelband or drum and bugle corp.
Memories of large marching bands wending their way through the streets of Brooklyn, with us kids running behind the bands from block to block. Or seeing the massive world-renowned Morgan State University and Grambling State University marching bands on the streets of Harlem, marching in the African American Day parade from 110th to 145th Streets while hundreds of thousands lined the route and watched and cheered. And then there is playing in a steelband, live, on Eastern Parkway - from Rochester Park into Prospect Park with millions watching along the path, and while hundreds of steelband music lovers battled each other to pull your racks.
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