“Boogsie reminds me of Bird
(Charlie Parker), he has Bird-like qualities...on any given
moment he can do something
the late great
extraordinaire - Max Roach
One of the operating guiding principles of Moods of Pan
(MOP) almost from its inception is
to provide a
performing forum for the best in steelpan music
talent. And in this regard the people of
been blessed by
the continual success of the Moods of Pan Festival, and the
awesome array of top notch talent that it
has drawn to
their shores over the years.
greater talent to have performed at the Moods of Pan
Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe. In
fact it was Sharpe who, after performing at the first
MOP festival, encouraged the young show
from Gemonites to keep the event (then a one-day affair)
going. Of course it was no surprise that Sharpe
would be a part of the powerful line-up of performers in this
Moods of Pan celebrating the festival’s tenth anniversary.
Boogsie performed on the final
of the MOP
Festival named ‘Another Side of
His performance - for lack of a better term - was “Boogsie
Like” and defies description.
It was both
intriguing and fascinating
to watch the total awe on
the faces of the people in the audience as they watched
Boogsie perform. This living legend continues to stretch
and challenge the accepted norms
instrument and music in general.
Len “Boogsie” Sharpe thrills
the audience at Moods of Pan
2008 - Another Side of Pan
Boogsie hears tones, see colors, feels rhythms and
timings that others do not. He is truly a
percussionist at heart - raw and unrefined in touch - always
rhythm first - with sophisticated melodic content
disguised in between complex rhythm patterns. Boogsie
can deliver violent dynamic outbursts on the instrument
- while simultaneously eliciting the most subdued
lullaby-like passages just below the surface at
speeds. And of course he can always play just two
notes in the oddest of places at a snail’s pace.
such is the genius of “Boogsie” Sharpe.
It has been a while since this author
has had the opportunity to hear Boogsie in a solo
artist situation. I have had the fortune of interacting
with Boogsie while wearing many different
hats including that of player, producer, engineer and competitor.
My first interaction with Boogsie
placed him as the opposing
for the Moods Pan Groove in New York back in the early 80’s. Later
we would hook
when he was part of some of the finest
steelpan recordings to date by Basement
Recordings as he was
the arranger for Moods
Pan Groove and Pan Rebels Steel
Back in the 90’s as
an engineer for the late great legendary drummer Max Roach,
and returning with him in a cab from a gig at
University - in an informal conversation about pan and
Trinidad - Max asked me who was the best steelpan performer.
I told him that I felt that Boogsie was the most gifted
talent. On many a night Max himself walked with the Gods when he performed. Max
subsequently traveled to Trinidad and met Boogsie.
He was so impressed with Boogie's talent he invited him to tour
with his all-percussive group M’Boom. Later Max would setup a jazz
recording project featuring Boogsie, in which Max instructed
me to record every moment. Max told me that Boogsie
had Charlie "Bird" Parker qualities and at any given time Boogsie could do
Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe no doubt possesses the same qualities.
Max saw Boogsie as being directly connected to the legends
and geniuses he himself once played with.
The musical cohorts of
Max were many of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, including Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie
‘Bird’ Parker, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Charles on. He is to
be admired, enjoyed for his gift and
formidable skills - as they are unique.
The word ‘genius’ means different things to
different people, and is sometimes misused when ascribed to
less than qualified parties.
The genius of Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe
will never be in question.