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In Response To Andy Narell His Music & Steelband Panorama

Narrell's discussions on pan are always interesting. (See Andy Narell His Music & Steelband Panorama)

For example, when he says "we have done, perhaps 1% of what we can with the steelband", and I respond "WHAT"? I then remind myself that, unlike Narell who first heard the steelband as an organic, developed, thing, with clever arrangers and a range of instruments, My steelband experience began when a band had  a few pan roun de neck, a few tenors, a couple seconds and guitars (I think they had started to come in) and a 3 note bass  and  dudup and iron.

I lived through the excitement of the early geniuses who made this thing into real music.

I was on Frederick street when de fellers came down playing 'Back Bay Shuffle',  I remember the excitement when some  pans started being wheeled and, as a boy pushing them. and later on experiencing the euphoria of actually playing them.

I saw the phenomenon grow, where men, unschooled in musical theory, made music that astounded the world.

I remember Dr Northcote,English music festival judge, speaking highly of the instrument but suggesting that they 'stay away from orchestral classical music as being a bit out of their range and smiled as the men completely ignored him and other naysayers and then exulted when Nortcote come back 4 years later and marvelled at the panmens mastery of the genre.

I heard all stars drop their first bomb, I listened to Starlift playing Ray Holman, a teenage schoolboy's arrangements, full of musical ideas and subtlety..

So I forgive Narrell and his 1%! He simply does not know how great this so-called '1%' is!

I know we will continue to grow this amazing musical form/instrument/ concept. We will continue to ignore the advice of musicians who come from outside and tell us what we must do with our thing. Dah is how Trinis is.

I appreciate and understand Narell's understanding that the steelband is really like no other musical orchestra. especially when playing calypso. I have never seen any orchestra play in which the members so 'catch de spirit' and become part of the music itself!

What I am impatient with, is his refusal to understand the essence of panorama.

Panorama has its genesis in pan on the road at carnival time. I know he missed the heyday of pan on the road, when these amazing entities called steelbands would travel through the streets of POS, thrilling themselves and the revellers with their music. He cannot understand the relationship between a carnival steelband and the masqueraders/revellers/ crowd/audience, having not witnessed this phenomenon. So he cannot grasp the elements of  arrangement which Trinis insist must be in a 'panorama tune'.

Maybe, if he had been in the streets on those days or after panorama began, been in the North Stand in early days, he might have had an inkling.

However, I agree that it would be nice for us to have a kind of 'pan ramajay' sponsored by corporate bodies, where large bands also entered and  in which steelbandsmen could compete on a different level, where pure musicianship and experimentation, would be the only criteria.

But he is , as my mother would have said, 'fars an out a place' to want to change panorama, which is one of the last remaining elements of the golden era of pan because it keeps the link between pan and the man on the street -- who created it ; which preserves something that one day we can return to and develop and so save the carnival itself!

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Yuh talking plenty sense, but yuh missing the main point.

Yes, pan is now an international instrument.  So Narell from the USA, Chin from China, Fujisomo from Japan and Mr.or Ms.  Whoever from wherever has the right to play pan, experiment with it, adopt it to his own style and even come and join a local band  and make his or her contribution. Even enter panorama. All that is great.

What we are saying is that to criticize panorama to comment negatively on the judging, without fully internalizing what the essence of panorama is, is wrong.

It is because the pan culture is ours that we object to anyone, especially. but not only outsiders, wanting to change this particular aspect of pan culture called panorama. We object because we see panorama as having a particular role to play in the preservation of -- and eventual redemption of, an important part of carnival -- which is another very crucial element of our Trini culture.

I accept Narell's contribution as a jazzman-panman to the steelband  scene. What I cringe at is his suggestion that the judges are sometimes  'pandering to the crowd' in their decisions. He does not understand the relationship between the 'crowd' and the 'band'.

You know, in a way, this tells you the genre of jazz performer he belongs to! 

Like yuh point. As far as "pandering to the crowd", we really don't know, neither does Andy, so no need to cringe. I believe that they do, but i can't prove it either. We can speculate, it makes for healthy discussion. I enjoyed all the bands, including Birdsong. Didn't think ALL Stars deserve to be that high up but many will disagree with me too...........life goes on.

I agree with you,  I like All Stars but for the past few years we have been hearing the same thing again and again.Renegades deserve to be in third place. SuperNovas will blow people's mind on the final night, they're the winners.

And some are not open to ideas and suggestions. Close-minded, perhaps?


Ray once told me that he was "'trying to find a 'groove' " when he was experimenting with  what you call the laid-back' style,

He did, I think, find that 'groove' and one hears it in some of the recordings he has made.  But when he returned to arranging specifically for Panorama, he knew exactly what that meant. His recent work in panorama speaks to that

ANd, even then, Ray's groove had a specifically Trini jam to it. And interestingly another contributor mentioned Nutones 'High Mas'. It is exactly the groove that this band struck up that  I would use as an example of the difference between a groove that is a real' Pan on the Road' groove that differs sharply from Narell's efforts so far.  I think Stanley shoiuld go back and listen to that tune again!

Noel, thanks you for this passionate, beautifully written comment, from the heart, soul and well tuned intellect of a true pan man. It would be good to see comments like yours and others-from the people who know and grew in the music- in print. It would be of more value than all the 'outsider' writings combined.

If you look at Andy music he has more of a Latin flavor than Trini, he just don't feel the panorama vibe is not man enough to admit. Some of the heat should be directed at the people that hire Andy, they are creating a situation where Andy could feel the people don't like him.

Isn't this the same Andy Narell who is taking 'pan' to all corners of the globe? The same one who is making more money with the 'pan' than "we" with "we" ting?  Did Andy advocate a change in panorama? I thought he is entitled to his views. We doh hafta do nutten dat Andy say. After all he is only, like some ppl say, a white man who knows what to do with pan....different from what we think.

Imagine steelband playing Mozart and Strauss............we really "farse an outa place, yes"

Noel, you are correct, he "damn farse and out ah place". I blame Birdsong for continuing to employ him in his quest to try and change "We Ting". Panorama is jam and wine on yuh pan and here comes this "Johnny come lately" trying to change perfection. I remember when he was at Skiffle, telling the players not to hit the pans hard. Wha wrong wit dis madman?.Steeeeuups.

Maybe he was trying to get them to "play" the pan, instead of "hitting it hard". What yuh think?


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