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“When my back is up against a wall, I work best!” champion steelband arranger Len “Boogsie” Sharpe said yesterday morning. He was describing the imaginative musical lines and infectious phrases that constituted the scintillating arrangement of Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove’s tune of choice, Jump High, which ultimately led to the band’s victory in the National Panorama large band final at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.
The Woodbrook-based powerhouse secured its seventh title in the category to successfully defend its title. Of the seven titles the band attained, six of them were back-to-back. “We had challenges,” Sharpe told the T&T Guardian. “We wanted to win. We didn’t finish our tune for semi-finals. We were behind by 11 points. I wanted to win Panorama, because it hard to get two (in a row). I come back and do it, and when you get two, you want to get three; and three is the hardest.”
Sharpe did not want the public to walk away with the impression that Phase II’s feat was due to his efforts alone. He showered kudos on the entire team, starting with the talented bunch of young and veteran musicians who were able to bond, interpret and shape his musical ideas, resulting in the concise performance that brought home another victory.
But he knew the players were happier playing the song because of the quality steelpan instruments they had. For that, he lauded pan tuners Roland Harrigin and Bertram “Butch” Kellman. He also praised the executive team for their diligence, as well as the band’s support base for their unswerving commitment to the Phase II brand.
Boogsie’s jubilation, however, was tempered by his concern that Pan Trinbago officials were trying to stifle bands in the large conventional category that can do more to make the competition more attractive. He pointed to the ceiling of 120 players per band, which he said should be lifted. “Large is large! Is large band, and then they coming and tell you 120 players. All them big bands does use more than the amount.
“I hear they (Pan Trinbago officials) coming for me. I go with 120 because I don’t want them come and do me no embarrassment thing, where I have to take players off the stage.” Boogsie said, “Let people play pan. People coming from all foreign and stuff. They paying the passage to come and spend this amount of time, to identify with our national (musical) instrument. Oh God! All yuh leave the thing alone nah man, large is large! It causes confusion, too!”
He said leaders of large bands have advanced this position to Pan Trinbago on numerous occasions, but to no avail. He said the attitude of Pan Trinbago officials was to put the matter to its membership, which results in representatives of steelbands in smaller categories adjudicating on the subject from which they should be excluded. “Small bands have a say in our business! Single pan band have a say in our business! That wrong!” he said.
“Every time we come up with something, small and medium bands fighting we down! That wrong! This thing has to fix! If Pan Trinbago say extra people could play, it is our business to find money to pay the extra people.”
Phase II’s Back-to-Back Record
1987 Dis Feeling Nice
1988 Woman Is Boss
2005 Trini Gone Wild
2006 This One for You Bradley
2013 More Love
2014 Jump High
2008 Musical Vengeance