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The making of a ‘Smooth’ Panorama arranger

Trinidad Express

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” This is a famous quotation by William Shakespeare. Arranger for eight-time Panorama Champion Massy Trinidad All Stars, Leon “Smooth” Edwards, 62, embodies the quintessence of this quotation.
Edwards was born great, musically. With an innate ability from a tender age, he was playing instruments like the xylophone, and mouth organ. By age 9, Edwards began playing the pan. He said, “It was cost-free to learn, and ready at my disposal, since two of my older brothers who played the pan, brought one home after Carnival.”
The instrument was not allowed into the family home, but was relegated to outside, under the stairs. This restriction, however, did not deter Edwards from mastering the tenor pan. The first tune that he was able to play was, “O Danny Boy”.
At 16, while still at high school, Edwards joined Trinidad All Stars. At first he had to slip away from the house to attend practice. His parents finally agreed to allow him to go to practise for the four-to-six-week period before Carnival...

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In 2015, Leon "Smooth" Edwards joined Clive Bradley, Jit Samaroo and Len "Boogsie" Sharpe as being the only four arrangers to qualify a band for the Panorama Finals at least 29 times.  Len leads with 36, Bradley had 32 and Leon tied Jit's 29.  In 1986, Leon Edwards established the record for the highest winning percentage; All Stars scored 293 out of 300 points (97.67%).  Len Sharpe established the record for the most points scored in 1987, 487 out of 500 (97.4%).

1985 is the closest Panorama Finals to date.  The scores were 282 each for Desperadoes & Renegades; All Stars 281-Tokyo 280 and Exodus 279.

What an excellent, well-researched document of history and also a fine example of class and humility. I have always admired Smooth's soft-spoken nature, which -- just like Jit Samaroo -- contrasts with his music which is anything but. I think this quote sums it up best: “I am not shy, I do not have to boast about myself. I allow my work to speak for me.” A good example to follow!

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As I have said before… Smooth seeks no limelight as the others and he is as elusive as Apple Pie and Custard. This is why he deserves to be recognized, if not the greatest he is truly one of the best in the world. It is time he becomes Dr. Leon Smooth Edwards.

Leon 'Smooth' Edwards has deservedly and aptly earned that nickname of Smooth, as in smooth operator. It suggests someone who is adept at getting things done effectively and efficiently, without much fuss and hullabaloo. From my observations of him, he comes across as a humble and unassuming individual, one who relishes his privacy and shuns publicity at all costs. 

As the musical arranger for Massy Trinidad All Stars, his accomplishments speak for themselves and are testimony to his musical talents and creative genius. He has won my admiration for avoiding appearing on stage to conduct his Band during their Panorama performances. He has done his job in the Pan yard, the Band is well rehearsed and there's no need for him to be prancing about  on stage in front of the Steel Orchestra, when they are quite capable of executing their performances as required.

Leon 'Smooth' Edwards definitely and unquestionably belongs in the annals of " The history of the Greatest Panorama Music Arrangers of All Times " with the likes of Clive Bradley, Jit Samaroo and Len 'Boogsie' Sharpe .

I might add that maybe, sometime in the future, if he continues on the current successful trend, he just might be considered the greatest Steel Band Arranger of all times.


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