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‘All Stars’ produces another memorable gem

Ace pannist Dane Gulston (centre) joins band members during one of the performances. Source: Massy Trinidad All Stars Facebook page

Music lover and parishioner Andre Walker attended ‘Massy Trinidad All Stars Classical Jewels XI from Jules to Jemmott’ on November 18 at the Lord Kitchener Auditorium, National Academy of Performing Arts. His review has been edited for length.

The ‘Massy Trinidad All Stars Classical Jewels XI from Jules to Jemmott’ was another rare gem in the star-studded crown of the Massy Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra. To a friend who asked me at intermission what I thought of the programme so far, my spontaneous response was that it is the best thing that has happened to me for the year!

I never thought that I would have heard a single tenor pan sound like a symphony orchestra. Kobe Alleyne who played Dr Francisco Slinger’s calypso ‘Mr Walker’ achieved just that. It was magical!

The music moved deftly and with precision from towering classics of Custave Hoist’s ‘The Planets’, Johan Strauss’ ‘Persian Marche’, Franz Von Suppe’s ‘Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna’, thru Edward Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance” to Gloria Shayne’s ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ carols sweetly and sensitively sung by the UWI Arts Chorale.

As All Stars moved to Ultimate Reject’s ‘Full Extreme (We Jammin Still)’, one could not  help but feel that God was very present to us all as we listened in rapt attention and awe to the beautiful sounds that came from those well-tuned oil drums. It was like receiving musical therapy of a very transcendent kind!

Much respect is due to the conductors/musical directors: Derek Nurse, the band’s captain, Mia Gormandy, Sule Sampson, Kygel Benjamin, the latter named three are all ex and/or present members of the band; Jessel Murray and June Nathaniel. All brought the magic of the music to life with or without the music score sheet, in some instances. It was surreal.

The very engaging speaking voice of emcee Raymond Edwards, who with the help of the programme notes, eloquently knitted the tapestry of the performances in his inimitable style and panache.

The stage hands, the Box Office staff, the ushers, the front decor of the band’s trophies, the cinematographers and their screening of clips of popular films ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Magnificent Seven’ in particular as visual supportive adjuncts while their scintillating musical themes were played by the band, made for the totality of a truly entertaining musical experience.

I leave for last, the most telling and moving moment for me. The Gulstons led by impresario dad, Dale, together with gifted sons Daniel and Dane  remembered my cousin-in-law, the recently deceased ace Double Seconds player, a member of 50 years standing, Joseph Long. Their performance of the John Lennon classic ‘Imagine’ so sympathetically accompanied by the band just brought tears to my eyes. Fittingly, the family members of Neville Jules, the band’s first leader and Jerry Jemmott, the founder of the Classical Jewels concerts, were duly acknowledged and honoured with awards.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s encore call for the band’s Panorama winning tune of calypsonian Owen ‘Scrunter’ Reyes ‘Woman on the Bass’ resonated with all in the audience. The players, some of whom had already left the stage obliged and just brought the house down with their earthshaking rendition.  Could they be part of your entourage on your visit to China next year, Mr Prime Minister?

At 11.15 p.m. another Massy Trinidad All Stars Classical Jewels concert therefore came to an end, in a most exhilarating way, as patrons left the concert hall feeling truly blessed and musically massaged by the night of wonderful music. The video CD should be in every home or given as gifts to friends and family all year through.