Master arranger Len “Boogsie” Sharpe and Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove retained their title as National Panorama champions on Saturday night at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, beating the leaders of the semi-finals Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars by one point in a showdown of steel.
The national finals for the Medium and Large Conventional bands proved to be a night of great pan music for patrons at the Port of Spain venue.
Patrons in both the North Stand and the sold out Grand Stand sat through eight hours of sweet pan music before even attempting to leave the venue and still they did not hear the results.
It was just on 3.35 a.m. yesterday when the defending champions came on stage to the delight of the pan fans. Boogsie’s introduction was well played and for seven minutes and 49 seconds the audience was treated to the “master” and his followers at work. They played Boogsie’s arrangement of “Jump High”, with lyrics written by Boogsie and Nigel Rojas, and vocals by soca artiste Destra Garcia.
The melody of the song was well played and there was a great rumbling of the bass pans with the counter melody coming from the frontline pans.
The 120 members played in unison as a well rehearsed unit and the jams were beautifully executed and as always on a final night, Boogsie presented the judges with a fantastic ending. The audience in both stands gave Phase II the thumbs up when they were finished. Of note were the distinctive Miss Miles masks (white face, red lips) and banners worn by dancers on stage carrying the Phase II masthead. The pan stands were also decorated with moko jumbie like figures in red, black and white, also wearing the mask. These are from Miss Miles—A Band on Corruption, which will be seen on the road today led by playwright Tony Hall and actress Cecilia Salazar and designed by Peter Minshall. The Phase II flag itself was carried by Garcia in red boots and a clingy black outfit who lent her own magic to the moment.
At 3.06 a.m. Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars came on stage to a resounding “roar” from the crowd in both stands. The perennial Panorama favourites played seven minutes and 53 seconds of exciting music beginning with a brilliant introduction and a melodic line that was a true representation of the melody.
All Stars had it all in their rendition of Leon “Smooth” Edwards’ arrangement of “Excitement”, the use of chromatics and a decorative melodic line together with call and response proved to be very effective.
When they were finished there was a louder “roar” from the audience and the exodus from the Savannah began. In the end one point separated them from Phase II to the delight of their fans and supporters. They won People’s Choice.
Bp Renegades in beautiful green shirts was the final band of the night and they came on stage at 4.02 a.m. to produce a great performance of Duvonne Stewart’s arrangement of “In D Minor”, a song by De Fosto. Renegades played a beautiful introduction to the song and throughout the melody were never lost. Music came at the listener every which way. They also made good use of call and response between the various pans; their ending was also very, very good.
The large Conventional bands began their competition at 11.29 p.m. and it was not until 1 a.m when Witco Desperadoes came on stage did the excitement of the evening truly move the audience, although they appreciated all the music they had heard before.
Desperadoes brought thousands of supporters on stage and they gave a brilliant introduction to Robert Greenidge’s arrangement of SuperBlue’s “Spankin”. The melody was played with precision with very good rhythmic changes. Desperadoes presented a good challenge to the champions.
Ten steel orchestras faced the judges and CAL Invaders with Arddin Herbert’s “Jam It” started with good, tight playing and set a standard for the evening.
They were followed by NLCB Fonclaire which played Ken “Professor” Philmore’s arrangement of “Big in the Dance” with clarity in the melody line and a great use of the orchestra in their call and response.
NGC La Brea Nightingales followed with their rendition of Terrence “BJ” Marcelle’s arrangement of “Pan in the Atmosphere” with a good jam. T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps was next with Clarence Morris’ arrangement of “In D Minor”. They had an interesting introduction and good melody line.
Playing in position six at about 1.30 a.m. Republic Bank Exodus gave a unique introduction to Pelham Goddard’s arrangement of “Pan is Carnival”. They also produced nice rhythmic changes which were very effective. As usual they wore distinctive suits with a large red X on their T-shirts
Liam Teague and PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars played Tony Barclay’s “The Reason” and brought all aspects of Carnival with them along with great dynamics in their presentation.
The improved tempo by Ray Holman and Skiffle and the use of effective call and response worked for the band which also spliced in a piece of the Wedding March in their performance of “The Wedding”. It’s an interesting song which describes a wedding between the musical art forms of chutney and soca.
The close points in this category between the top five bands is a reflection of the great pan music that was executed at the savannah for the finals.
The show started several minutes late with the anthem played by Rashard Bernard and Pan Trinbago’s President Keith Diaz welcoming all visitors.
In the medium category ten bands also faced the judges and Pan Elders continued their fine form and ran away with the title all be it by three points from defending champions NLCB Buccooners.
Melodians kicked off the action with Amrit Samaroo’s arrangement of “The Hammer” followed by Carib Dixieland with Leon Smooth Edward’s arrangement of “Dis is It”
After the victory, Phase II manager Errol Skeritt said, “It is not easy to write off Boogsie. He loves the challenge of coming from behind; he thrives on this and loves a challenge. We worked hard after the semi final round. This is a great victory.”
After the semi final round Phase II was tied with Witco Desperadoes and Bp Renegades in third position. But after last night’s performance in which you saw a spirited and emotional conductor in Boogsie, it was quite clear than Len Boogsie Sharpe is one of the greatest steelband arrangers to walk this earth.
1st Pan Elders 284 1st Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove 287
2nd NLCB Buccooneers 281 2nd Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars 286
3rd Courts Sound Specialists 277 3rd Bp Renegades 283
4th Petrotrin Katzenjammers 276 4th Witco Desperadoes 281
5th Valley Harps 272 5th Republic Bank Exodus 279
NGC Couva Joylanders 272 6th PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars 274
Arima Angel Harps 272 7th Skiffle 271
CAL Invaders 271
8th Melodians 271 9th NLCB Fonclaire 267
9th NGC Steel Xplosion 266 10th T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps 262
Carib Dixieland 266 NGC La Brea Nightingales 262
Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille N&M Trinidad All Stars