Pan-O-Rama
at New York's Lincoln Center Complex with
David "Happy" Williams and Ensemble

 

The steel pan aka the steel drum - shared the spotlight during the New York Lincoln Center's Year of the Drum Celebration which honors the drum masters of jazz during it's 2002-03 season.  The 10th floor view of both the Hudson River and city lights was a fitting panoramic backdrop for the majesty of the steel drum instrument, whose range and versatility was showcased in jazz, calypso and contemporary settings in musical interpretations by both Othello Molineaux on tenor pan and Ron Reid on double second pan.  They  were part of the 8-member jazz ensemble led by David "Happy" Williams which graced the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse at  the Lincoln Center complex.

 The venue's intimate setting had a full house with its crowd of about two hundred gathered to hear the Thursday October 10 event billed as Pan-o-Rama, which was the first of three nights' performances.  An accomplished jazz bassist and capable calypsonian, Trinidadian David Williams introduced his musical comrades after Happy's Story, the band's second selection.  They comprised Othello and Ron on steel pans; Vincent Herring and Yosvanti Cabrerra on saxophone, Frankie McIntosh on acoustic piano, Buddy Williams on drums and; accompanying vocalist Keith Prescott, known in the calypso world as "Designer".

David Williams' long-time love affair with the steel pan began with his days as a member of Trinidad's Invaders Steel Orchestra, and he confessed that practically all the music he writes is done with pan as the major instrumental influence - like the ensemble's opening number I Love the Pan, vocalized by David himself.  The majority of the evening's repertoire was written by David and chronicled some of steel pan's colorful history, and its legends- like deceased Joyland pan player Gunga Din, who later in New York became one of the founding fathers of Despers U.S.A.

 The versatile band members interchanged during the evening, with Ron Reid laying aside his pan mallets (sticks) to pluck the strings of the electric bass; while David was equally "Happy" on his beloved acoustic bass and on vocals; Othello and Ron sometimes shared handheld percussions, and also background vocals.  Designer kept things bubbling on vocals and on the 'cowbell' - another handheld percussion instrument - but it was such a pity that this talented vocalist himself did not have at least one opportunity as featured vocalist.

Discerning the melodies of both Molineaux's and Reid's steel pans was initially extremely challenging, but when the audio engineer become more comfortable with the pans as lead instruments as opposed to accompaniment, their sound became more prominent as the set progressed, and in the Year of the Drum celebration, thankfully the pans triumphantly came into their own for the second set.

As the instrumentalists were individually spotlighted, they elicited appreciative bursts of applause from the occasionally reserved audience.  Molineaux and Reid extemporized on steel drums.  Hannibal's Return- written by Molineaux, served well the featured energetic percussions from Buddy Williams.  Yosvanti and Vincent in turn also mesmerized the crowd as the evening progressed.  Frankie McIntosh, heard especially in the evening's closing number, and himself a musical force to be reckoned with- was the quite master on keyboards.

The ensemble took the crowd from 'observation status' to 'active participation' in the diverse musical catalog they delivered during both sessions.  Their general reactions were measured and moved from what was initially polite applause, to enthusiastic responses and appreciative acknowledgements.

The performance was another landmark in the New York pan world.  It's not often that pan is featured in one of the world's foremost  performing arenas, the Lincoln Center.  The Jazz at Lincoln Center's recognition of the steel pan - for a world audience is another step in the evolution on the New York pan scene.   The legendary Max Roach who will be also be celebrated in music at the Penthouse at the end of October, says quote "Steel drums are magical instruments, and it's amazing that you get so much out of them.  I'm fascinated by these instruments!"

The audience was suitably warmed and mellowed by the end of the evening's show at 10:30, as they left on what was a rainy and chilly journey home.

Click on The Longtime Steelband for a chronicle on the beginnings of pan.

 

 

 

By CP - Basement Press Release Writer
 



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Date: 10.11.02

 

 

 

Double Second player RON REID outside the penthouse after the evening's performance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L to R: Yosvanti Cabrerra - saxophone; Vincent Herring - saxophone; Keith Prescott aka "Designer" in the Calypso world - vocals; Ron Reid - double second pan and electric bass; David "Happy" Williams - vocals; Othello Molineaux - tenor pan

Above photo by:  Petra Richterova
Jazz at Lincoln Center

 

 

 

 

 

FRANKIE McINTOSH (left)
shares a few moments  with long time friend, pan supporter, and  pan player  Garvin Blake,
at the Pan-O-Rama intercession at
Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2002 Basement Recordings, Inc. All rights reserved.