Full coverage on Moods of Pan 2007 **
Antigua & Barbuda, W.I. - It is now day three of the Moods of Pan 2007 Festival and it is also the final night. Thus far, it has been two days of great entertainment with the steelpan instrument as the leading act. Tonight is called "Another Side of Pan" where, in the tradition of great final nights at previous Moods of Pan festivals, some awesome musical performances have been delivered by some very great acts. This year would not break from that tradition. In fact, it would add to the mystique of the Sunday evening "Another Side of Pan" legacy.
The show opened with performances by local acts the Mason Brothers band who were followed by the Roots Steel Band featuring Aubrey “Lacu” Samuel who put on a lively crowd-catching performance. Antigua's Gemonites Steel Orchestra then continued the night's spirited performance with their own set of crowd pleasers as only Gemonites can deliver.
Exodus Steel Orchestra
The audience buzzed with eagerness and anticipation as the time for the mighty Exodus Steel Orchestra from Trinidad and Tobago to take center stage, finally arrived. The Moods of Pan 2007 final night audience were in for a special treat. First to take the stage was the highly regarded and accomplished producer, musician, songwriter and steel orchestra music arranger for Exodus Steel Orchestra, Pelham Goddard. Mr. Goddard took up position behind the keyboard on stage right, to be part of the performing ensemble. And as he performed a beautiful solo ballad rendition of his co-composition “Dus’ in Deh Face” made famous by co-writer and famed calypsonian David Rudder, Exodus took the stage. Once on stage the group provided vocal accompaniment to Mr. Goddard's piano performance of “Dus’ in Deh Face.” In fact, in addition to Pelham Goddard's piano accompaniment there would be numerous moments on this night, much to the delight and approval of the audience, when different members of Exodus would provide vocal support or lead.
Uniformly attired in their bright red tops and white slacks, the players, like figures in a high relief painting, stood out against the white background of the stage tent, as the spotlights sent glowing shots of glistening sparkles reflecting off their mirror-like chrome instruments. Exodus came ready to deliver both a visual and heavy acoustic experience.
Exodus Steel Orchestra
Clearly it was Exodus' goal to stretch and redefine the accepted norms and expectations for a world-class steel orchestra. The added dimension was met with much approval by the Antiguan audience. Exodus performed an assorted repertoire that included both song and dance. Moreover, their set accented the beauty of the family of steelpan instruments as their audience traveled with them musically through the different cultures of the Caribbean, the Far East, Africa, the Americas and beyond. From Swing to Soul to Rumba to Chutney to Soca - Exodus took us on a enjoyable excursion packed with memories, purpose, geography and history, all the while never loosing their trademark musical precision, balance and deft execution.
The sixty-minute set included lavish Pelham Goddard-arrangements of popular classics like Tourist Leggo, Pan in 'A' Minor, Sugar Bum Bum, Isn't She Lovely, Georgia featuring Earl Brooks, Jr. and Rhythm - just to name a few, and much, much more.
Exodus Steel Orchestra
Exodus, as with all great performers and entertainers, quickly established a vital symbiotic link with the audience that brought out the best in both. The level of appreciation, love and bond between the audience and Exodus grew with each song performed. The audience effusively demonstrated their satisfaction with extended applause and cheers. Exodus Steel Orchestra could do no wrong. Moreover, they met, matched and maintained that esteemed reputation that preceded them.
The only miscue on this fabulous Antiguan night was that - as we all know the Antiguan prime minister unapologetically takes his pan music very seriously - an extremely disappointed Baldwin Spencer who was out of the country on official business, was rushing back to Antigua in hope of catching Exodus' performance, but arrived just moments after they completed their set. Now, how many Heads of State would rush to see a steelpan show on their own accord, and express real pain over having missed a world-class steel orchestra performance? Antigua & Barbuda (especially the steelpan community) are truly privileged to have the Honorable Baldwin Spencer as their Prime Minister, and Exodus - their musicianship and showmanship obviously held in high esteem.
This year world-respected and in-demand recording artist, saxophonist Dean Fraser was given the honor of being the closing act for Moods of Pan 2007. Hailing from Jamaica, Dean Fraser is certainly reggae's best-known contemporary horn player and bandleader, with over one thousand albums of recording credits to his name. This immensely talented musician is equally comfortable with jazz as he is with reggae as the Moods of Pan audience found out first hand.
Dean opened the show with "Dick Tracy" a traditional Jamaican Ska song and followed up that with Ras Michael's "None a Jah Children No Cry", from his album Big Up.
The consummate performer and entertainer, from the very first note, Dean had the pulse of the audience. By the end of the second song the audience was his, to make laugh, cry, dance, yell - all of which he did. If there was anyone in attendance who was unaware of the musical abilities of Dean Fraser at the beginning of the show - you can be sure he/she was a complete unadulterated fan by the end of the saxophonist's fifty-minute set. He effortlessly performs with the tenor and alto sax as if either is just a natural extension of his body, while losing nothing in the passion he brings to each piece. No unnecessary movements or 'flash' - just a spiritual connection that lets you know - this one is something very, very special.
Dean Fraser, right, on sax
With his trio, Dean Fraser seamlessly moved between, and served up, musical delicacies of different genres - with seasonings of Pop, Calypso, Reggae, Ska, Rockers, Rock Steady, Dub, Jazz, Ragga, Dance Hall and South African traditional music - on the night's menu. And when Dean was not entrancing the crowd with his saxophone, he showed that there was nothing wrong with his command of vocal expression - he can sing.
From a haunting rendition of TOK's "Footprints" to an interpretation of Bob Marley "Redemption Song" as no one has ever delivered - Fraser's ability to elicit intense emotions from the crowd is a tribute to this passionate artist. There is nothing fake or insincere about his music - no artificial anything. He seems to be simultaneously experiencing the same sensations he invokes in his audience. As he went through a medley of classic Bob Marley tunes the crowd erupted with oohs, ahs and applause as he hit his stride with "Africa Unite". He ended this marvelous set with "Redemption Song" - however, not surprisingly, his return to center stage was demanded for an encore performance by the audience - and he proceeded to drop a wicked version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".
Dean Fraser, right, on sax
Dean Fraser and his-top ranking trio of musicians [Raymond Bowie McLaughlin (keyboards), Desmond Jones (drums), Glenroy Browne (bass)] have the ability to walk with the Gods on any given night. As fate would have it, the near-perfect weather for the three nights of Moods of Pan Festival continued through Mr. Fraser's performance. As he finished his last note, bowed, said 'Good Night' and turned to walked off the stage, the heavens opened up a torrential downpour that hit the Deanery grounds for about one minute - indeed the Ancestors weighed in with their mighty approval of the performance of Dean Fraser and his trio.
The final curtain fell on Moods of Pan 2007 Festival, and
show producers Gemonites had very successfully done it again.
note - Next year marks the tenth anniversary of the Moods of Pan Festival. The organizers have already let it be known that this will be very special event. The only place for any pan fan to be, this time next year - 2008, is in Antigua & Barbuda for the Tenth Annual Moods of Pan Festival.
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contact: Moods of Pan
Patrick “Stone” Johnson - email@example.com - (268) 727-6633
RELATED ARTICLES on Moods of Pan 2007 **
- Golden Hands Wins Five Alive Again!
- Moods of Pan 2007 Honors Antiguan Distinguished Steelpan Musician
- Antiguan International Steelpan Music Festival Rising - Day One
- Golden Hands, Three Cylinder and Exodus rock the house - Day Two
- Dean Fraser, Exodus, Gemonites, Roots Steel Band - Another Side of Pan - Day Three
- Exodus Steel Orchestra in the Spotlight
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