J'OUVERT MORNING MEMORIES
AND THE NEW YORK STEELBANDS
By Yvette E. Rennie
The evolution of mankind is its culture and history. These two processes unify us, discipline us, mold us, guide us, give us the ability to achieve the highest satisfaction in life. J'ouvert City Inc., is on its way to achieving that level of evolution. Our ideology is based on preserving and maintaining the only 21st Century instrument, the 'Pan", thus, we insist on Steelband music only to participate in the celebrations.
What a sight it was, did you see it? Did it make you want to prance? Yea! Approximately 50 thousand people submerged in the wee hours of the morning on Monday September 4th on Flatbush, Lefferts, Nostrand Avenues and Linden Blvd., to enjoy our J'ouvert. At 3:00am bands assembled at the corner of Woodruff and Flatbush Avenues. Bands on the move.
Metro Steel Orchestra coming down the road jamming (playing) to the tune "Monastery Garden", arranged by Eddie Quarless. The melody was clear, rhythm section was steady and they maintained a good impact throughout their performance. Brother Tony Joseph, the founder of the band led his young players, listening carefully, with a big smile on his face, pleased with the band's performance. They accompanied Ju Ju Jammers, who portrayed "A Touch of Colours", designed by Danville Williamson. His African Caribbean concept was well thought out, the individual of the band was Wallace Alleyne, who portrayed "The Bed". Ju Ju Jammers is the first mas band to be involved in J'ouvert.
Casym on the move - the community band, our next generation of professional pannists coming down the road playing "Pan Rebellion", arranged by Arddin Herbert. The music tone and arrangement were excellent. These children's ages ranged from 4 to 21 years, their founder, William Jones, displayed the role of a proud father among his young players. This Youth Movement portrayed "Any Witch Way", designed by Cynthia Carrington and Cynthia Grillet. Witches of all kinds - red, blue, black, white - with frightening faces, scaring the onlookers.
Moods Pan Groove's sweet melodies of the calypso "Lara", arranged by Len "Boogsie" Sharpe made the quotation a reality: "If music be the food of life, play on, give me excess of it." The melodies and tune were clear and defined, the arrangement was excellent. Manager Clyde Durante, chipping to the melodies, enjoying every note of the tune. This steelband accompanied Roy Pierre & Associates, who portrayed "Mimics", as Roy Stated, "it is a jovial band, mimeographed depiction of New York", it surely did. 500 masqueraders dressed in black and white costumes, awesome!
Trinidad All Stars USA, bellowing out "The Impossible Dream", founder Earl Lewis (Banga), pleased with what he was hearing. The arrangement and rhythm were excellent. Suddenly someone shouted "Is that Neville Jules?" Yea, he was the arranger for the band. It was a pleasure to see one of the fathers of the Steelpan among us, training, teaching and guiding. All praises go to you Mr. Jules. This band played for "Three Men and A Lady", who portrayed "Flour Bag Soca Sailor", powder in the air, powder in the hair, pretty sailor, modern sailor, oldtime sailor doing the sailor dance, do you remember this tune..."Sailorman coming down..."
Silhouettes Steel Orchestra. This family oriented steelband side was filled with unity and love as they enjoyed the culture. The extension of that love was joined by Pan historians: Caladera, Lezama, Drayton, beating away on the iron to the beautiful tune "Mr. Bo Jangles" arranged by the famous Earl Brooks. the strength of the community's unity was visible. Their instruments, mounted on racks, were pulled by diehard pan people, this band brought back memories of the old days when Steelband controlled Carnival, reminiscing about the good, the bad and the ugly of that period and how we have grown. The band portrayed "D Caribbean Sleeping", designed by Dennis and Malcolm.
Adlib Steel Orchestra, our Long Island steelband, filled the air of Brooklyn with the sweet melodies of "Over Joy", arranged by Lloyd Modeste. The professionalism of this band was outstanding, the melody lines were clear and precise. This young group of pannists enchanted the onlookers as their proud leaders, Franklyn Mayers and others, danced amongst them. They accompanied E & K Associates, who portrayed "Go Down Hulsie", designed by Ellis Hamilton and Kamau Nyutu. Between the mist of the lights and the glare from the wee hours of the morning, the colours of this mas' were outstanding.
Steel Grove Project, the panside mounted on a truck, bellowing out sweet melodies of "Kakalaylay" arranged by Keith Greene. The music was refreshing and unique because of the integration of conventional instruments and steelpan. They accompanied Leslie Kahn and Ray Morris Associates who portrayed "Victoria Secret", beautiful, beautiful nightwear.
Pan Rebels Steel Orchestra, the sweet music "America the Beautiful" arranged by Garvin Blake, brought out the spirit of Carnival. This band has been very instrumental in keeping J'ouvert alive in Brooklyn. Give praises for these young thinkers for they deserve it. "Thank you, Anthony Trebute", the founder of the band accompanying Den Stevenson Theatre Production. Den is the master of Old Mas, his portrayal "Eat and Drink Your Heart Out" was a jovial sight to see, the characters were hilarious, especially "Table Wine".
Pan Effects', better known as Sonatas, music was very pleasing on the road, they played "Lara" which was arranged by Prof. Ken Filmore. Their clean and sweet music filled the air with a joyful sound as they maintained a steady tempo throughout their performance.
Boston Metro Steel Orchestra - It was indeed a pleasure to have Bostonians with us on J'ouvert Morning, playing "Lara". This large group of pannists brought with them the enjoyment of travelling from one state to another to perform amongst the greatest pan groups outside of Trinidad & Tobago. Their melody was clear and enjoyable.
Hi Larks - Pan around the neck in a J'ouvert is a must, thanks to Hi Larks for making sure we received the fulfillment of our celebrations. This band, consisting of seven players, bellowing out the tune "Dr. Cassandra", maintained a clear melody and good rhythm section. This band brought back beautiful memories of our struggles to move pan forward within the cultural world.