The judging of pan is a very serious matter and organisers of competitions need to always keep this in mind. Adjudicators do not need to be distracted, either by patrons sitting too close to their judging location, or nutsmen hawking their produce to judges during a competition.
One can only hope that when the final of the First Citizens International Steelpan Jazz Challenge is held on November 4, this salient point is noted, and rectified. On another note to organisers, pan, the only percussive instrument invented in the 20th century, is an extremely sensitive instrument, which demands only the most exquisite of miking and acoustic requirements. One section of a steel ensemble, or orchestra, improperly miked, throws off the entire sound of the aggregation.
At last Sunday’s elimination, held at the Queen’s Park Savannah by the QRC Foundation, many a patron was overheard complaining of not hearing tenor solos, especially during the performance of Moyenne, as well as a paucity of sound for other participants, not to mention imbalance of sound even after each band was sound checked before performing.
It seemed as if Murphy’s Law had come to the venue with as, on top of patrons not hearing its music properly, in the middle of its performance the amplifier for bassist Dougie Redon simply died. From the stands one could have easily recognised the frustration on the face of musical director Chantal Esdelle, and the dagger stares she sent the sound engineer’s way.
Overall, Sunday’s event would get a passing grade, especially as it was a forum for the execution of some beautiful music, underscored by some excellent individual virtuoso performances. Thirteen ensembles, comprising pan and conventional instruments, faced the judging panel that comprised of foreign-based music luminaries Ron Reid and Dawn Batson.
Of the lot, six elected to go with compositions by the late Lord Kitchener, however two of the top-placed three bands— winner Golden Hands and third-placed— played Machito’s Mambo Inn. Placing second was the T&T Police Band Jazz Ensemble, playing Kitchener’s Love in the Cemetery.
As far as the eventual placings are concerned, some patrons have expressed surprise with the fifth placing awarded to The Codrington Family. Playing Kitchener’s Pan Night and Day, the children of leader Cary Codrington displayed their virtuoso skills by mastering every instrument on stage, including the saxophone, holding their audience captive throughout.
Had it been a fashion contest, bpTT Renegades would have topped the standings hands-down. Wearing beautiful multi-coloured tops from The Cloth, the East Port-of-Spain ensemble was colourful in its execution of Machel Montano’s Magic Drum.
Renegades, though placed sixth last Sunday, is a definite clear and present danger to all at the final, especially when the band augments itself with a couple of its crackshot players. Top-placed Golden Hands and T&T Police Band Jazz Ensemble exuded poise and confidence with their performances. It’s obvious that these two were thoroughly rehearsed and may have benefitted from an improved system having performed in the latter half of the programme.
On a final word of advice for organisers, why not utilise two stages instead of one to guarantee a smoother and more efficiently run programme, with limited breaks in between. One more thing, what’s this thing about no alcohol being sold at the venue? This is not some kind of Gospel pan jazz show.
Bands placing first to eighth have qualified for the grand finals, also to be held at the Savannah. This contest is endorsed by Pan Trinbago.
Pan in the air
We may be winding down Calypso History Month but pan has been very much in the air throughout October, continuing for most of November. Following close on the heels of Sunday’s First Citizens International Steelpan Jazz Challenge, last Tuesday evening, Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove hosted a most impressive gala 40th anniversary awards and dinner function at the Hyatt Regency.
The popular Woodbrook band concludes its celebrations on Sunday evening by returning to the Hyatt to produce From Rags to Riches...The Story of Phase II Pan Groove, its 40th Anniversary Concert. Top billing for this event is shared by Ray Holman & Friends, Etienne Charles, Leston Paul, The Lydian Singers, Voices of Petrotrin Choir, Trinmar Chorale, and Phase II Pan Groove.
Not to be left out this weekend, Overdrive the Band also has pan on the frontline when it stages Feel De Vibes, tonight and tomorrow night, at the Little Carib Theatre in Woodbrook. Produced by sight impaired musician Jason Dasent, this concert places young, talented Phase II prodigy pannist Johan Chuckaree in the spotlight. Also on the billing are Mungal Patasar & Pantar, 3Canal and Ruth Osman. Feel De Vibes promises to take you on a journey into rootsy rhythms, sweet chords and mesmerising vocals you won’t soon forget.
D Parang Now Start
For the last two year’s it has been one of the more popular parang contests in the land, attracting many amateur and upcoming bands which normally don’t stand a chance competing against the big guns. The third annual D Parang Now Start premieres on Thursday, November 1, at 6 pm, at its homebase, at Sweet Lime Restaurant, located at the corner of Ariapita Avenue and French Street, Woodbrook.
This year, participating bands will compete in four preliminary rounds with competition beginning at 6 pm every Thursday, until the grand finals on December 13. This year’s winner will walk away with a $10,000 cash prize, plus a chance to perform at a Christmas business event at Gulf City Mall in La Romaine. The defending champion of the last two years is Armonias Divinas.
Lucky patrons will win hampers every week on competition nights. Registration of parang bands for D Parang Now Start ends today. For registration or further information, contact 627 9152, between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm, Monday to Friday.
Forever Young is the theme of Woodbrook Secondary School Alumni Association’s Annual Dinner & Dance 2012. This is the eighth year that the event will be held, and it is scheduled for November 3, at the school, located at 41-45 French Street, Woodbrook, from 7 pm.
In 2011, due to the State of Emergency, the function was held at the school in the form of a cocktail party. The feeling of coming home was so apparent that this year the venue for the dinner and dance could be nowhere else but the school’s compound.
This Dinner & Dance is the ideal forum for networking and socialising with fellow alumni. Attire on the night is ‘elegant’. The Alumni Association also holds its May Day, Family Day on the first Sunday in May. The organising committee of the reunion includes Charmaine (299-7740); Carol (774-5932); Keith (682-2043); Kariym (756-7960); and, Siobhan (794-4612)
Three the hard way
M.E.S.H. is the acronym for Malick Folk Performing Company, Exodus Steel Orchestra and Signal Hill Alumni Choir, and these three cultural entities are collaborating to produce the first of what is planed to be an annual Christmas Concert Series. The shows are scheduled at Queen's Hall, St Ann’s, on November 16 - 18, with two shows planned for the Sunday.
Each of these organisations has been in existence in excess of 30 years and all, over these years, have represented Trinidad and Tobago at festivals locally, regionally and internationally. They also are recipients of National Awards – Malick Folk Performing Company, founded in 1979, received the Chaconia Medal (Silver) in 2004; Exodus Steel Orchestra, founded in 1981, received the Chaconia Medal Gold in 2003; and, Signal Hill Alumni Choir of Tobago, founded in 1982, received the Humming Bird Medal Gold in 1997.
This year's production titled Come All Ye Faithful will feature dance, voices and steelpan music with accompanying brass instruments.President Professor George Maxwell Richards and his wife, Dr Jean Ramjohn-Richards, have consented to be patrons of this, an inaugural production.
Organisers state the rationale for the name "Come All Ye Faithful" in twofold and includes it being an invitation to all faithful supporters of the performing arts, and the timeliness of staging a gala event in keeping with the Christmas season and the carol O Come All Ye Faithful. In fact, the entire second half of the programme will focus on Christmas.
The people behind this production are all well-known for their outstanding work in the sphere of culture and are Norvan Fullerton, founder and Artistic Director of Malick and accomplished producer; Ainsworth Mohammed, manager of Republic Bank Exodus; and, John Arnold, founder and Artistic & Musical Director of Signal Hill Alumni.
Well known announcer and TV presenter Jemma Jordan is secretary of MESH while Come All Ye Faithful is being directed by locally and internationally acclaimed director Louis Mc Williams. The Friday and Saturday shows are schjeduked to begin at 8 pm, with Sunday’s matinee scheduled for 3 pm, will be reprised at 7 pm.
First Citizens International Steelpan Jazz Challenge
1. Golden Hands
2. T&T Police Band Jazz Ensemble
3. Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille
5. Codrington Pan Family
6. bpTT Renegades
7. Couva Joylanders
8. CLICO Sforzata
9. Curepe Scherzando
10. UWI Caribbean Contempory Workshop Ensemble
10. Arima Golden Symphony
12. Our Boys
13. Tamana Pioneers.