Date: 8.10.02

 

MEETING OF THE MASTERS


ARRANGERS bare some of their feelings at a Forum at Basement Recordings

 

What do you get when, for the first time in history, Pan arrangers par excellence agree to meet at an impromptu rap session?  What comes out are Insight into feelings, their musical beginnings, inspirations, aspirations and grouses - to but just touch on what turned out to be a journey into  virtually uninhibited sharing  (and sometimes venting).

On Saturday 10 August - Basement Recordings scored a historical first - a coup - when Clive Bradley, Ken 'Professor' Philmore, Pelham Goddard and Nicholas Mohan agreed to share and bare in an informal atmosphere at Basement's studio in Brooklyn New York.  Given the short time frame in which this event was pulled together, it was not possible to have all the arrangers who could have been there, attend.  For example - Moods steel orchestra's arranger Robert Greenidge flew into New York later.  The almost three-hour long interactive session that followed with these extraordinary talents is one for the books.

Bradley turned out to be the 'unofficial ' chair of the foursome; the arrangers fielded questions from onlookers - some of whom were themselves pan veterans.  No area was off limits - from 'Professor' unabashedly giving praises to Bradley and Pelham - the two men he looked up to - to individual grouses about the dedication (or lack of seriousness) on the part of pan players - to practice sessions.  Listening to Bradley candidly reminiscing about his days gone by - as a student, then a school teacher in Trinidad - all the while nursing his true love - music - turned out to be a priceless look inside how Clive Bradley the man came to be who he is today.   He was not afraid to share his unique experiences such as his qualms about first going 'up  on de hill' - Laventille in Trinidad, to not even having an interest in sex for a few years - so completely was he consumed  by pan arranging.

Pelham listed amongst his challenges (to this day) as an arranger - the many instances of unsolicited advice from 'arranger-wannabes' - who would invariably be passers-by and on-lookers.  These 'knowledgeables' would run the gamut - from suggesting alternate arrangements - to demanding why Pelham had changed an arrangement from the day or so before.  There were funny but poignant stories of how die-hard pan fans - though well intentioned but with extremely bad timing - could banish forever from their musical minds - what could have been the 'genius' line(s) in their respective arrangements - by simply talking to the arrangers at the wrong moments.  Other instances happened when acquaintances of players would go right past arrangers and through bands to 'ole talk' with players - not really giving a damn that band practice was a serious matter

Nicholas Mohan, Sesame Flyer's arranger said that even in his three or four years on the scene - he empathized a great deal with the experiences of his more seasoned colleagues.    Mohan soaked up all the information and reminiscing from the others.  Clive Bradley has found that Friday nights are the best  for practice sessions - especially in Trinidad - as the band could go into the early hours of Saturday mornings without fear of disturbing the peace of the general populace who would have to rise early on an ordinary workday.  He lamented that he was about the only soul to recognize the importance of this quality time. - but pan players disappeared for the customary 'Friday night out' as the list of their must-visit haunts did not include a pan practice.

Professor described  music as a 'kind  of madness' in relation to where he was transported whenever he plays.  He like the others, remarked on the paucity of good material to arrange for pan players - melody and harmony being sacrificed to today's commercialism, and that this downward trend was worsening with every passing year.   It came out at the session, that a calypsonian who years ago had huge successes with very musical selections - but had now joined the seemingly mindless musical fray on today's soca scene  - personally said that he knew what he was singing (or not!!) was quote "a pack of nonsense - but that was what the people wanted".

Get more of Basement's exclusive arrangers' forum on the 'When Steel Talks' web site in the near future.  Click HERE for Profiles of the arrangers for the 2002 New York Panorama.

 

By CP - Basement Press Release Writer

 

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Last modified: September 12, 2002