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Supernovas shine at Pan Royale

Monday, October 20, 2014
World-renowned trumpeter Charlie Sepúlveda, a professor in Latin jazz performs during QRC’s Pan Royale at the school’s courtyard Queen’s Park West on Saturday night. PHOTO: CLYDE LEWIS

Late arrivals at Pan Royale last Saturday evening missed an opportunity to experience some glorious music played by Supernovas Steel Orchestra, the reigning Small Band National Panorama champion. The 2014 edition of the event, billed as A Tribute to Ainsley Mark, and held on the grounds of Queen’s Royal College, St Clair, started just 12 minutes after the advertised starting time of 6 pm with a small audience in attendance. 

More patrons arrived later but the number never reached the volume seen at previous editions. Mark, who died last August, was co-founder and chairman of the Queen’s Royal College Foundation, (QRCF), producer of the event. 

Supernovas from Lopinot Village, Arouca, which, according to a biography on the printed programme, “has commanded the attention of pan connoisseurs, and shown superiority versatility and skill alongside bigger band in the business,” opened with the late Sniper’s (Mervyn Hodge) Portrait of Trinidad, played with a tight sound and authoritative vibes that held the audience riveted to every note.

The band’s varied repertoire contained a silky smooth rendition of Besame Mucho, one of the most famous boleros, written in 1940 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velázquez; a rhythmic take on Teddy Pendergrass’ When Somebody Loves You Back from his 1978 album Life Is A Song Worth Singing; tender treatment of John Legend’s 2013 composition All of Me; and a highly polished performance of a Sparrow medley inclusive of 60 Million Frenchmen, Du Du Yemi, and The Statue.

Mungal Patasar and Pantar followed, and served up its unique mix of sitar, tabla, saxophone and steelpan to generate an infectious rhythm during their set that included a new composition titled Curry Stew and the old favourite Dreadlocks. Outstanding were the dazzling solos from multi-reedist Dawud Orr and Patasar on sitar, as well as the masterful tabla playing by his son Prashant. 

Latin jazz exponent Charlie Sepulveda and the Turnaround, making another appearance at Pan Royale, incorporated locals—keyboardist Michael “Ming” Low Chew Tung, pannist Natasha Joseph, and dholak player Amarnath Maharaj—in the aggregation to create an intensity and energy in music that left listeners mesmerized and in heaven with appreciation for the fusion.

The musical conversations between Maharaj’s dholak and the band’s congas in the selections Human Nature and Evolution were worth remembering for the ease with which the instruments co-existed. Ming’s artistic solos on the keyboard and Natasha’s delicate touch on her double seconds also grabbed attention, and won spontaneous applause from patrons.

Seemingly delighted by the success of the experiment, Sepulveda said he was renaming his band Triniround.  On a personal note, he expressed sadness at Mark’s passing, and was of the view that “this country needed more people like Ainsley Mark.”

After the interval, Massy Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra took the stage to serve up a palatable menu of musical treasures. Under the direction of veteran pannist Yohan Popwell, the band accompanied internationally famed tenor Eddie Cumberbatch of The Lydians to render in fine voice Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Memory, and This Is The Moment from the Broadway musical Jekyll and Hyde. 

Then Chantal Esdelle, leader of jazz group Moyenne, joined the orchestra on keyboard to brilliantly showcase Luiz Bonfa’s 1959 composition Samba de Orfeu. Bringing down the curtain on the evening’s entertainment was a mini concert by David Rudder backed by Wayne Bruno and the Rapid Response in which he offered among his choices Oil and Water, Trini To The Bone, The Hammer, Mad Man’s Rant, Calypso Music, and High Mass.


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