by When Steel Talks
Different Me -- “5Star Akil”
The legendary Desperadoes Steel Orchestra have got their swagger back. And they are letting everyone know that we are about to experience a transformed Desperadoes. And yes, for Panorama 2016 "Different Me" is the operative descriptive for the musical juggernaut.
Embracing a host of significant changes for a franchise that has been steeped in tradition, resistant to change and locked in the "Desperadoes way" - is, for lack of a better word, very "different" - maybe even shocking.
Indeed one of the most intriguing happenings for the 2016 Panorama season, has to be the pairing of veteran arranger and respected jazz musician Carlton “Zanda” Alexander with Desperadoes. The move to switch from long-time champion arranger Robert Greenidge and give the musical directive reins to “Zanda” sent shockwaves through the steelpan music continuum that were felt globally. The phrases - “Yuh lying!” “Wow!” “Say what?” “Come again?” “Really,” “WTF,” “omg,” and “smh” were seen over and over as the initial responses over social media.
Of course that initial response was immediately followed by a very public embrace - great choice, this is going to be interesting, can't wait to see what they do together. In retrospect, “Zanda” is probably the only arranger that could garner the respect of the players, organization and community to pull off such a move. The trust factor is huge here. As the late great leader of Desperadoes said - “The band belong [sic] to the people of Laventille” - both locally and globally. The community has much invested in the organization.
“Zanda” is eccentric, blessed with awesome musical skills, always thinking outside the box and challenges the musical norms, while skillfully and without apology embracing the norms of calypso, soca and traditional Trinidad folk music. Most importantly: his mind is young. He connects with young people musically and spiritually.
The tune of choice is the current, extremely popular 2016 “Different Me” by 5Star Akil. Talk about flipping the script and raising eyebrows. No one saw that coming, but it is very consistent with something “Zanda” would choose and do justice to... (remember ‘I’m not Drunk’ and ‘Radica’).
The truth be told Desperadoes has embarked on a much-needed bold make-over, and it might work. There is ‘buzz’ around the franchise again. It has shaken off the doldrums and is now the subject of Panorama talk again all over the world.
I was looking to a forum to express my views on this subject. I would like to endorse these sentiments 100%; to add that I first heard of Carlton "Zanda" Alexander when I heard "I'm not Drunk" and then "Radica" and I, too raised my eyebrows at the news last year, while knowing deep inside that despers HAD to find a replacement for Robbie as he was trying too hard with his music and needed a temporary break.
When I first heard the tune this year my initial reaction was: "what!?!? but I thought bradley was dead! he lives on through Zanda!!
I would like to change that reaction now. Of course, Clive Bradley has been dead for over 12 years, but Zanda is proving to be a step away from Bradley. This man is a genius. There is a point roughly halfway through the tune when (apparently) the tempo and the tone of the tune changes and it's like you are in a whirlwind of sound. This old man is trouble!
Hmmm.. What's interesting with this outstanding arrangement, is it starts with the bass pans. Sweet, melodious, and elegantly executed. The vibrations in the panyard among the players is refreshing,everyone is keenly interested in playing the music. This SOCA sound is loved by all, so it's fitting and suited to a rejuvenated Desperadoes.Both Clive and Carlton are creative,original Trinidadian musicians. Win or lose Despers should stick with him. Bravo! Curtis and his young dynamic executive.
WINNERS NO BODY BADDER THAN WE
Raw power….less is certainly more….
Feeling real, real good that my band from Laventille won 2016 Panorama Championship, love you Despers and more winnings for the coming years. Merlene from Village Council Street. Trinidad. Blessings.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ZANDER & DESPERADOES 2016 PANORAMA WINNERS