New York PANORAMA '03 -
Personal Pan perspectives
by Gail Braithwaite
From the time "Trini to the Bone" was played over the PA system, Panorama was essentially over. With Trinidad's 41st year of independence just hours old, Pantonic couldn't have hoped for a more favorable situation.
All that was left was for the band to deliver a convincing reading of the melody. However, Bradley and his players gave the listener much more. The sheer power of their opening notes neutralized the ineptitude of the sound engineers who had wreaked havoc on the previous bands.
The "woa-o-o" hook line was voiced so deep and haunting that the audience was compelled to sing along. This was classic Bradley. The music had an inner logic that made it seem simple, yet sophisticated. With slight, but clever, variations to the original melody and bold re-harmonizations the listener was never lost or bored.
The last three minutes of the song contained several lines that were born and bred in Trinidad. They were from the bygone days of Sonny Denner, Bert Inniss, Jonh "Buddy" Williams et al. The ending was patriotic, maybe even cliché, but at that point panorama had been over for twenty five minutes.
Missed live performance.
D'Radoes, playing right behind Despers USA approached their performance in workmanlike fashion. Their tune, "Passion", although not a typical panorama [selection], had a pretty melody and a strong rhythmic drive. The arrangement was minimal and clean. Their mid range pans played some of the most glorious counter melodies for the night. The bass lines were inventive and well played.
The band did not exhibit the "jump-up" pan playing that is, unfortunately, becoming the norm in a lot of bands. As a result, their execution remained focused and they delivered a well-balanced performance.
A perennial New York powerhouse played a solid, lively rendition of "Music In We Blood". There was no new musical ground covered in their arrangement, though. Sonatas has some of the best pans in New York, however; that was apparent Panorama night. The band could probably use some more tenors. Also, they have an unusual stage set up that needs to be addressed, if they hope to get the true value of their instruments.
With Pelham Goddard at the helm and a 90-plus member band, one expected a lot from Marsicans. "Music In We Blood" was counted at a quick, but not unplayable speed. However, the tempo kept increasing to the point where rhythmic problems became audible. The band was much more exuberant Panorama night than they were in their panyard, which may have accounted for the uneven tempo.
Marsicans song was well arranged with good modulations and structure. Too bad the band never settled down.
If panorama was based solely on crowd response, Dem Stars would have been in the top three. They were the surprise of the night. Playing Defosto's "Pandora", Dem Stars laid down the performance of their lives. Unfortunately, their arrangement had an ordinary feel to it. Clearly the judges felt this band lacked the musical creativity required to put them closer to the top. In any event, Dem Stars added some needed life to a panorama that had its share of dull moments.
Dressed in bright red, Pan Phonics delivered a high octane version of "Music In Mih Blood". The arrangement was plagued by the over-use of crowd pleasing devices. Although some of their special effects were creative, after a while they became distracting and predictable. A little musical restraint could have improved their performance.
Playing Funny's "Ding Dong", Harmony was more comical than musical. The players appeared to be having fun, which is more than I could say about the audience.
Women In Steel:
Women In Steel's version of "Ellie Man" was void of the soul one comes to hear at panorama. The rhythm section was dominated by a 'scratcher', which wasn't played by a female, that did nothing to lift the intensity of the performance. That being said, these young ladies must still be commended for their dedication and hard work. Let's hope next year the band hires a female arranger, so they could truly live up to their name.
Moods, playing last and out of position, 'due to no fault of their own', played the final version of "Music In Mih Blood". The band gave a credible accounting of themselves. Veteran arranger Robert Greenidge used jazzy motifs and good phrasing to give the arrangement a contemporary flavor. Moods had well-tuned instruments, but they lacked the size and power required to challenge to the "big guns". Nevertheless, Moods' music was a welcome addition to Panorama 2003.