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Remembering the late Ansel Wyatt -Prelude in A minor

The nineteen sixties were my formative years, and was a great time to be young in Trinidad , especially since our musical culture , influenced by modern trends, had reached perhaps its most vibrant and creative era.
That was the decade during which the steelbands matured into a viable musical alternative to the wind and string instrument bands , both in parties and dances, and on the road at Carnival.
In the early sixties the dance bands also improved significantly, with big new sounds from bands like the Clarence Curvan Band , The Dutchy Brothers band , Joey Lewis, the Bonaparte Brothers , and others , including a few years later the band I consider to be the best of the big band era , the Ron Berridge band..
Bands moved away from the formal dance hall style of the fifties as featured by the Sel Duncan Orchestra , for example , to a more modern youthful sound influenced by rock and roll and Latin American sounds.

In this musically rich environment of the early sixties , we also saw the growth and popularity of the combo style band.
Influenced by instrumental rock groups like the Ventures , Booker T and the MGs and others, "combo-mania " as we called it exploded on the scene and caught the imagination of the youth.
One of the pioneers and most influential of the early combo groups was the Ansel Wyatt Combo.
The band featured Ansel Wyatt on lead guitar , supported by Steve Khan on second guitar , with the Sammy brothers ( with Morris "Boojie" Sammy on bass ) as rhythm section.

The Ansel Wyatt Combo was incredibly popular , and garnered a large and enthusiastic following , especially among us who were teenagers at that time ; particularly since the band members were no more than teenagers themselves.
On a personal note , the success of this band inspired some friends and I to form our own combo , The Silhouettes Combo of Marabella , which achieved a moderate level of success , even after I left T&T in 1968.
As the combo movement grew ,the combos became more sophisticated , including vocalists , keyboards and even wind instruments in some instances.
However , the cultural importance of Ansel Wyatt and his pioneering combo cannot be overstated , and Ansel Wyatt should be recognized as an influential contributor to Trinidad's culture of the nineteen sixties and seventies.

With little fanfare , and unfortunately little public acclaim , Ansel Wyatt passed away on June 18th , 2017.
He was an authentic Trinidadian guitar hero.

May he Rest in Peace.

*** R.I.P. Ansel G. Wyatt (Dec 10, 1943 - Jun. 18, 2017) ***

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Comment by Randolph Peters on August 10, 2017 at 11:39pm

Very accurate recapitulation Glenroy, of the era. This phase you referenced segued into the combo heyday with headliners such as Casanovas from the North, Solid Seven from La Brea, and perhaps the most renowned, The Group Solo, and perhaps the most creative: the Andre Tanker ensembles. Ansel grew his guitar chops in Point Fortin where the family resided in the fifties. There used to be guitar duels at night at the popular liming spot "at the roundabout" in Point between him (representing Mahaica and "down the road") and another hot shot young guitarist from Techier Village named Ricardo Hamilton. Both had their supporters and this rivalry was preferred to the armed conflicts that erupted between delinquents from both communities from time to time.
You were also on point, Glenroy in contrasting the sedate, elegant music of Sel Duncan with the Ron Berridge's equally accomplished oeuvre, each appealing to a different consumer.

Comment by 911 on August 9, 2017 at 9:14am

My Condolences to the Wyatt family,Who I knew when the family was living, New Alta in Diego Martin.

Thank for all the wonderful music.

May God put your soul in a resting place R.I.P

Comment by Brenda Hosang on August 8, 2017 at 4:12pm
Even tho I did not go to dances in those days, I certainly knew the popular name Ansel Wyatt.
Thank you GRJ for that eloquent documentary of a time frame that I can relate to so well.
ps: did I not read previously about His passing? Someone mentioned his mouth organ playing.
Brenda H.
Comment by Mercer Ramdoo on August 8, 2017 at 2:56pm
Thanks for the info. Since June, and not a word. An icon, indeed. Knew him playing cuatro with a mouth organ (harmonica) attached. Extremely talented. May he rest in peace.
Comment by Steve "Carter" K. on August 8, 2017 at 2:10pm

Thanks for the post JR, lovely indeed. Another of our musical icons has passed and also 3 of the Sammy Brothers who comprised this Wonderful Combo . It's nice that their musical contributions have been documented for prosterity as they surely made an impact on TT and the wider regions . A lobour of love I should say . Peace .

Comment by Glenroy R Joseph on August 8, 2017 at 1:36pm

Prelude in A Minor was a popular hit for Ansel , and his only composition I'm aware of

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