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Track Listing

  1. Click here to play a sound clip! Jump for Joy - Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars - O. Johnson - Arr. L. Edwards COTT 11:58
  2. Click here to play a sound clip! Panama - Harmonites - D. Rudder - Arr. C. Bradley COTT 9:53
  3. Click here to play a sound clip! Happy's Story - Birdsong - D. Williams - Arr. R. Smith BMI 10:35
  4. Click here to play a sound clip! A Special Brew - Carib Tokyo - Comp. & Arr. R. Holman COTT 13:54
  5. Click here to play a sound clip! The Band Plays On - Exodus - Comp. & Arr. P. Goddard COTT 10:45
  6. Click here to play a sound clip! Picture on My Wall - PCS Nitrogen Starlift - O. Synnette - Arr. A. Hadeed COTT 12:07
  7. Click here to play a sound clip! Panama (Reprise) - Harmonites - D. Rudder - Arr. C. Bradley COTT 2:51

A Special Brew
Steelbands of Trinidad & Tobago

A Special Brew

Total Playing Time: 72:23

eCaroh Price: $15.95

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.
© 2001 Shannon Dudley

• 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).
© 2001 Simeon L. Sandiford.

• 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 satisfy you.

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.
[GP/Caribbean Beat]


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