Welcome to eCaroh Caribbean Emporium!
A Special Brew - Steelbands of Trinidad & Tobago
• "Special Brew" got its name from the unique combination of talents that went into its recorded vocal version. Music was composed by [Ray] Holman and lyrics by Merchant (Dennis Williams). Brass band arrangement was done by Leston Paul, [exemplified in Get on Radical] and vocals by Drupatee. Some of Holman’s writing, such as the repetitive tenor pan rhythms that sound like tassa drums, or the orientally tinged minor mode section, was done to suit Drupatee’s Indo-Trinidadian musical background. In general, however, the steelband arrangement is vintage Holman. Its overall form is typical for Panorama, essentially a series of variations on the verse and chorus, in different keys, with an introduction and coda. Holman stamps it, however, with his unique melodic genius.
The chorus, in particular, which begins with a phrase of just two pitches set to a distinctive rhythm, reappears in a number of meltingly sweet variations and motivic references. Holman’s exquisite melodic phrasing complements a background of bass lines and strumming that is rhythmically driving and gentle at the same time.
The "jams," especially long vamps between the variations
built on a short repeated chord progression display Holman’s
unique ability to resist the frenzy of Panorama, leave space,
and let the music breathe and groove. The slow tempo of this
performance, beautifully executed by the Destination Tokyo steel
orchestra, only enhances the elegant rhythmic architecture and
sweetness of Holman’s music.
• The [Panama] composition, in four keys, evolves with the
usual [Clive] Bradley
wizardry superimposed on Latin-styled "oomphy" bass lines and
rhythms traditionally used by [Earl] Rodney. Note how Bradley
meanders melodically from passage to passage of his eclectic,
erotic, esoteric exercise, climaxing with his clever use of the
tenor pans to mimic timbales, those ubiquitous Latin percussion
instruments. If you listen carefully in between notes during the
quiet passages you will discern frogs synchronously croaking
their approval of Bradley’s majestic arrogance. (The recording
was done at 5:45 am on the morning of January 17, 1988 after an
extensive eight-hour rehearsal session).
• A SPECIAL BREW is the long awaited follow on to the best selling CD, Pan Sweet Pan. Special Brew is a Ray Holman composition which he also arranged for this recording by Carib Tokyo. After listening to this CD on three different types of speakers - from desktop to mid range to high end, I renamed it: "Pan - A Higher Level". It is apropos that in the first Sanch release of the 21st century we get a clear consistent exposition of Steelband orchestral music, using indigenous compositions, at a non-frenetic pace.
This is a brew that one will savor at every sip and every new
sip provides more pleasure. Indeed it is more like a seven
course gourmet musical meal prepared by the esteemed arrangers.
To partake of all the courses one needs seventy-three minutes
but if you have time for only one serving any plateful will
Even if A Special Brew didn’t live up to its name,
at least in buying it you’d be supporting the University of the West Indies’s
Steelpan Development Centre. But this is by no means the CD equivalent of a box
of Girl Scout Cookies. Rather, it’s a good, if idiosyncratic, selection of
contemporary steel orchestra numbers by some of Trinidad’s top bands and
arrangers (including veterans Clive Bradley and Ray Holman), enhanced by yet
another superior recording by Sanch Electronix. (Also included in the liner
notes is Sanch head man Simeon Sandiford’s essay on "Commercial
Opportunities for Pan Music", which might be of interest to some.) A
Special Brew’s seven numbers were recorded during panyard rehearsal
sessions, so with the help of a good pair of headphones, you could probably
imagine yourself transported to east Port of Spain on a cool February night.
Copyright ©2000-2012 eCaroh Caribbean
Emporium. All Rights Reserved.
Audio Clips |
Caribbean Art & Craft |
| Chutney & Indian
Music | Clothing