Top Bands, Arrangers take Pan-Jazz Challenge
Thursday 15th September 2011. Desperadoes, EXODUS, Renegades and Redemption Sound Setters are some of the top steel bands who will match wits and performance skills, as they vie for supremacy in what promises to be one of the most exciting post-Carnival pan events for the year: the inaugural First Citizens International Steelpan-Jazz Challenge. Also joining the fray is a representative band from the UTT, made up of Faculty and Students and coordinated by renowned arranger, Leon “Smooth” Edwards.
With qualifying and final rounds on Saturday 2nd and Friday 28th October 2011 at the Queen’s Park Savannah, the Challenge is a new feature specially introduced to mark the 10th staging of the annual T&T Steelpan & Jazz Festival. Over 15 bands have confirmed their participation. They will draw for playing positions on Tuesday 20th September 2011.
For this year’s Challenge’s qualifying round, bands will perform one song, chosen from a provide list of 20 calypsos that include classics like Bees Melody (Kitchener), Forward Home (Andre Tanker) and Pan Rising (Len Sharpe). Finalists will play two songs from the same list.
With the excitement building, several pan yards are abuzz with activity, perhaps seeing the Challenge as an opportunity to prove that their abilities are not just one-dimensional. Band leaders have expressed satisfaction that The Challenge provides a level playing field for participants – the traditional “big bands” having no advantage of size or reputation. Bands are allowed to use from 8 to 12 musicians and to choose their special combination of pans and other conventional instruments.
To adjudicate the competition, organisers have engaged the services of reputable musicians/educators headed by Orville Wright and including Ron Reid and Etienne Charles. These three eminent Trinbagonians who have showcased their talents in many countries all over the globe, have long standing relationships with the steelpan and Caribbean music as a whole.
Wright, Former Chair Performing Arts Department, University of Massachusetts, has rewritten the judging criteria for National Panorama and the World Steelband Festival. Just recently, he conducted a workshop on jazz arranging for the steelband at the NAPA.
Reid is an Associate Professor at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, Boston and currently heads the Sunsteel Sextet. Ron has been involved in the development of Panjazz and Caribbean improvised music since his teenage years. He was a regular participant at the jazz listening and experimental music sessions organised at Queen’s Royal College by the late Scofield Pilgrim.
Etienne Charles has been a member of Phase II and is now considered one of the brightest new jazz prospects in the world. Charles will be the feature artiste at The Many Moods of Kaiso, the finale of this year’s T&T Steelpan & Jazz Festival.
Since 2002, The Queen’s Royal College Foundation has been producing the T&T Steelpan & Jazz Festival, showcasing international luminaries such as Jazz Master: Randy Weston, Grammy Award winner Al Jarreau, Cuba’s Cesar Lopez and T&T’s very own Robert Greenidge, Rudy “Two-Left” Smith, EXODUS and Silver Stars to name a few. Over the years, the Festival has also presented musicians from Japan, Holland, Canada and several others, staying true to its promise of excellence in steelpan and jazz entertainment.