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Musical harmony at Ivory and Steel
Ivory and Steel may not have been an original title, but the concert featuring pianist Louis Nurse and the Solo Harmonites Steel Orchestra was original in concept and unforgettably entertaining. Staged at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) on Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, on Saturday night, the event attracted a large turnout of supporters who had their emotions stirred and imaginations stretched with traditional and international sounds of steelpan, piano and percussion.
Following a prompt 8 pm start, Louis and his aggregation The Lynx got down to delivering a medley of selections that stimulated great joy, indicated by a few couples showing off their dancing skills in the open area before the stage. In addition to Nurse on keyboards, the group comprised Jeffrey Pataysingh on guitar, Joe Singh on bass, Stephen Mapp on drums, Tamba Gwindi on percussion, and Maurissa Cagan and Nigel O’Connor providing vocals.
Among the group’s choices were When Will I See You Again, Besame Me Mucho, Carnival Is Over, Cuando Cuando, I Want To Love You, and We Are In This Love Together. Cagan, a member of the recently disbanded Divine Echoes orchestra, offered her vocal skills to First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, while O’Connor, also a former Divine Echoes vocalist, chose You Can Dance as his showpiece. Noteworthy was the skilful percussion solo performed by Gwindi during Besame Mucho, the Spanish-language song written in 1940 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velazquez.
Guesting with the group was pannist Bruce Roberts, a tutor with the Pan In Schools project. A 24-minute interval was taken to prepare Harmonites for centre stage. When the 30-member band did appear, with Nurse on keyboards, it opened with the late Andre Tanker’s Ah Went Away, and followed with bell-clear renditions of Cherish The Love, Love Theme—in which Nurse attempted some vocals —and its 1968 Steelband Panorama winner the late Kitchener’s (Aldwyn Roberts) The Wrecker.
Although the majority of those onstage were not members of the band 44 years ago when it won the title, the players executed Earl Rodney’s original arrangement of the selection, rich in thematic variations, with unbridled joy and enthusiasm to earn the audience’s genuine acclaim.
Cagan returned to the vocal arena, fronting the orchestra to offer David Rudder’s Calypso Music and Suhani Rat, a song of Indian origin. The band resumed with Amor, followed with SuperBlue’s Unknown Band, in which there was lots of musical activity in the lower pans, went into Night Shift, a folk melody centered around Mangoes, and the late Merchant’s (Dennis Franklyn Williams) Umbayayao, before informing it was Time To Say Goodbye. For the finale it chose its 2012 Panorama offering, Archbishop of Pan.
Solo Harmonites has maintained its harmonic qualities. Its members projected a broad range of mood and sound, and obviously enjoyed performing as much as the audience enjoyed a most unforgettable performance.
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