Hanging out with music genius Len “Boogsie” Sharpe and friends at Panorama Semi-finals 2017
Published with permission from David Boothman
Submitted to When Steel Talks by David Boothman
Boogsie’s genius has given to pan music worldwide a musical sophistication that has not yet! been realized and valued.
Fifty years of compositions solely for pan with a pan theater and laboratory called “Phase II Pan Groove.” Phase II’s panyard has become an institution of learning for the best of pan players and musicians in the region and around the world. Since Phase II’s early beginnings in 1972, students and professional panists from the Caribbean, Japan, US, Europe and Africa, have engaged in this laboratory of pan music.
This panyard has been the playground for this savant-like genius exploring the science of boom acoustic of the pan and its musical phenomena and potential. This Mozart/Art Tatum of pan has explored the full tonal potential of the boom acoustic instrument and its music - his skill in ascertaining rhythms and tonal clusters with undulating melodies and harmonics in the most complexed asymmetry is beyond the conventional - and is uniquely his. As an arranger, Phase II has become Boogsie’s instrument with a palette of skilled panists all technically set and ready to lay the canvas for his music.
In my humble and careful survey, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe has set the standard for pan music to the highest! level and should not be judged in any competition.
There are varying reasons for competition - the three main reasons: to promote growth, to raise a qualitative standard and to create incentive. Competition is good for novices and amateurs as they work towards becoming qualified. It is absurd and futile to have the qualified set standard reduced to re-entry to compete with the assessment that qualified it originally.- Gold is gold - gold CAN NOT be re-assessed as silver.
All is trivialized into the tribal and loses its creative and authentic value. Competition in the arts is a strange beast. Though the carnival is centered around competition by rote of custom for its euphoric buzz and excitement, the economic assessment borne from this remains stultified and myopic. All this set in the illusion of macro acceptance.
Phase II and Boogsie should be funded annually to perform their archived collection of original! works over the passed forty-five years at least. These compositions are of intrinsic historical value and are memorabilia of past carnivals. Through this opportunity, these works can have! longevity and value - both aesthetically and economical.
Most world-class symphony orchestras and their repertoire are sustained by funding both by government, private and corporate sectors who care and have value for the goodness of the creative arts and its usefulness to society in giving it meaning. Here is another proposition for HADCO in partnership with Phase II and keeping it real. Why not mimic this system of value! here and create a wider plethora of artistic and economic possibilities. If need be, I can help with curation and structure.
For real....this idea should be applicable to all great bands like Despers, All Stars, etc
In T&T Boogsie and Phase ll will have to win Panorama like any other band.
Great idea, should not be limited to Boogsie and Phase II, consideration should be given for a National organization in the Mecca to include institutions of government, private citizens and private industry to identify, preserve and promote the works of notable steelband arrangers, composers and innovators similar to the National Endowment of the Arts.
The NEA works with more than 20 other federal agencies, state and local governments, state and regional arts agencies, and private nonprofits on projects that provide opportunities for thousands of Americans to experience quality arts programming throughout the country. https://www.arts.gov/partnerships
The idea is good but I don't think it will ever happen in T&T under any government administration or Pan Trinbago. What you are asking for David is to recognize Boogsie and Phase II as something special and intellectual. That is a good thought, but for the rest of T&T there is nothing special and intellectual in pan, panorama, steelbands, pan arrangers, pan creators and tuners and pan players (not to be confused with musicians whose choice of instrument is the pan). T&T according to the late Lloyd Best is not an intellectual society. It's a society made up of politicians and merchants assisted by a working class. There are no entrepreneurs ( creative risk takers with money not to be confused by buying and selingl inventories. Hadco in this regard, is also unqualified and will not be able to see I to I with this concept. There needs to be an intellectual society made up of thinkers as well as doers backed by their own finance. For this we may need some help from outside. We haven't the qualified personnel in T&T for this as yet. However the sentiment is good.
Please, Sidd: Let the PAN LOVERS have their sentiment-filled pipe dreams in peace!!!
This has less to do with sentiment, more a call for action; I live and work in the change movement, studying processes, developing procedures/policy to achieve desired results, this is a paradigm shift in how we can see things while acknowledging the cultural dynamics at play.
... and where EXACTLY (in what country?) is your JOB, ODW?
Claude, I'm In the USA and work as an Operations Specialist in IT, hope the info helps.
I know that!!! I was being facetious!!!
Well, well, Bootsy, glad you're an ally. You certainly have a bird’s eye view of the band in which your soul is immersed. It seems you were figuratively born in the yard. For me, when I wrote the chapter on Phase II in Panorama Karma, I, too, had locked in on the many years I’ve been listening to Boogsie's music.
And this year was no aberration.
What about ALL STARS contribution to our culture? they have been constantly winning Panorama and bringing a successful band on the road for Carnival.
With all due respect to the idea suggested here it could be more beneficial to the Steelband Movement if these people come together and find a way to recreate a Bomb competition Monday afternoon, this way we would be able to get two pieces of music from Mr Sharpe instead of one.