Wilbert “Junior” Gill

Composer, Arranger, Panist, Percussionist

Pan is in the “genes”, as Junior Gill is second cousin to another pan player who also gets around the world - Robert Greenidge. Even though they have never played together, they have chatted on occasions.

The Pan Passion started when as an eleven-year old math whiz in West London, he learned to play from the panists in a then-appearing Grenadian steelband called the Kickstars.

Gill has never taken part in a Trinidad and Tobago National Panorama, but in 1990 he arranged the “Bomb Tune” for the Arima Melodians. The stint was made possible through the intervention of the UK’s BT Melodians’ Terry Noel. He has also arranged for at least two Swiss steelbands: Bollito Misto and Kool Kats Youth Steelband.

Four years later - 1994 found him in Trinidad again, this time as a participant in the Steelband Music Festival, where as the Swiss entrant, he place 10th in the solo competition. He jokingly remembers that “they referred to him by his real name - Wilbert!” Whether he is called Junior or Wilbert, his skill set is never in dispute, and he continues to be yet another luminary in the world of steelpan.

Junior Gill
Wilbert “Junior” Gill Composer, Arranger, Panist, Percussionist

Born in London 1963, Junior Gill is based in Zürich (Switzerland), where he has been studying and teaching music since 1991. He is the musical director of the Music Center Affoltern, in Zürich, a music center which caters for Keyboard, Drums, Guitar, Marimba, Percussion and studio technique courses.

JUNIOR has performed with quite a few well-known musicians, both on stage and in jam sessions - Phil Collins, Santana, George Duke, Airto Moreira and Victor Bailey – to name a few.

JUNIOR has mastered the pan, through listening and learning from the panmen of the so-called “Old School”: Gary Cheng, Ken Johnson, Selwyn Baptiste, Pedro Burgess, Sterling Betancourt, Russ Henderson, Aubrey Bryan, Zigilee Constantine, Kenrick Isadore, Boots Davidson, Tony Charles, and his first-ever teacher Clyde Dias.

He has been performing, touring, recording and composing with the legendary Panamanian drummer, Professor William (Billy) Cobham and his new fusion highlight “CULTUREMIX.”

JUNIOR says that he owes a lot to Billy Cobham for taking the chance and nurturing him through the highly professional music scene. To date, JUNIOR has toured all over Europe, with television appearances and recording with various musicians.

A lot of his success in Switzerland is due to the unlimited support from Margrith Fischer, (an ex-member of the legendary Swiss Pan Round the Neck Band, (Sandflöö) 

Together they formed the Swiss National Steel Orchestra, founded the Wilbert Gill Steelpan School and formed the KOOL KATS children Steelband. Currently, they run the Music Center Affoltern together.

From the age of four JUNIOR had already begun to show very much interest in music. He recalls being in trouble for dancing on the living room table, trying to emulate Sammy Davis, Jr. His sisters encouraged him to play the piano. In primary school he excelled in playing the xylophone, marimba and bongos.

In secondary school (Clement Danes Grammar) he took lessons in drumming. He also performed with the Christopher Wren School Steelband, where his good friend Tamla Batra also played. He attended the Middlesex Polytechnic in Trent Park, where he combined music as a major study, and Quantitative Mathematics as a minor, in a combined studies degree course. 

Billy Cobham - Wilbert Gill - Marcus Ubeda - Stefan Rademacher - Per Gade: Spectrum

Junior Gill's Tenor
One of Junior Gill’s steelpan instruments

Bibliography (highlights)

1974 Performed at Hammersmith Town Hall with the Ellerslie School band, as soloist on xylophone + marimba.
1976      Arranged “Auld Lang Syne” for Sukuya Steelband, for the new year celebrations
1977 Royal Albert Hall, concert for the Rotary Club of Great Britain, with Christopher Wren School Steelband.
1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Alberta/CANADA. TV appearance on BBC TWO’s “Rhythm on TWO” with The Groovers Steel Orchestra, led by Terry Noel.
1979 First performance in the Notting Hill Carnival with LONDON ALL STARS, led by Frank Rollock.
1982 -
Captained and assisted as arranger the GLISSANDO STEEL ORCHESTRA led by 1984 Parris + Pedro. Three times in a row, festival winners in England.
1985 Member of the resident Steelband at the Dubai International Hotel.
1986 Session recording for David Bowie + Patsy Kensit film “absolute beginners“
1989 Munich Film Festival with the Caribbean Safari Steelband.  
1994 10th placed soloist at Pan Is Beautiful VII classic music festival, Trinidad. First person from outside of the Caribbean region to take part.
1996 “Benissimo” national television Switzerland and Pan Is Beautiful VIII, Trinidad, with the Swiss National Steel Orchestra; Special guest at 30th Montreux Festival and 50 years Quincy Jones celebration One week at MJF.
1997 Produced Galaxy CD/video Milestones featuring Swiss National Steel Orchestra
1998 Founded 21st Century Steel Music Production, a label which recorded only live, with aims of catching the spirit of the moment, (CD “Morning Sunrise“ - featuring Russ Henderson [on] Piano + Annise Hadeed on pans,  and “Caribeye“)
1999 Extensive work with children from the School and Sports department of Zürich.  
2000 1st youth steelband festival held in Barbados - as leader of the KOOL KATS children band
Recording and performances with Billy Cobham
2003 Recorded second CD with Bill Cobham’s CULTUREMIX
2004 Performances with Billy Cobham CD released in August 2004

chart by Reschif H. Tirgram (edited by WST)

Junior Gill and Billy Cobham
Junior Gill and Billy Cobham

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