AFTER a successful initiative last year, Big 5 the pan concert is back and will be held on September 22 at the Paddock, Queen’s Park Savannah from 6 pm.
Promoter Dennis Ramdeen said the term Big 5 was coined by former chief justice Clinton Bernard, an avid steelband fanatic, who noted how the five bands, Desperadoes, BPTT Renegades, Massy All Stars, Hadco Phase II and Republic Bank Exodus have consistently dominated the National Panorama competition over decades.
The concert is dedicated to the late Pat Bishop. In the 55 years since the Panorama competition began in 1963, the five bands have collectively won the title some 42 times. All have also been given the second highest national award, the Chaconia Gold Medal among other accolades.
Leading the pack is 11-time champs Desperadoes (Despers). The band’s first Panorama victory came in 1966 with a Beverly Griffith arrangement of Sparrow’s Obeah Wedding and also won the Bomb and the Best Band on the Road titles. Their latest victory was in 2016 with Different Me by 5-Star Akil, arranged by Carlton Alexander.
The band had major Panorama success with Clive Bradley as arranger six times and Robbie Greenidge twice, and another with Griffith, Greenidge and Bradley coming together to arrange Pan Night and Day by the late Kitchener in 1985.
Desperadoes has won the steelband music festival on three consecutive occasions, with each of the classical renditions arranged and conducted by Bishop.
Bishop was an educator, music director, artist, cultural icon and one of the first women to arrange for steelbands. In 1995, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from The UWI and the following year, she was awarded the highest national honour, the Trinity Cross.
Reigning pan champs BPTT Renegades has won the National Panorama competition on ten occasions inclusive of a hat-trick from 1995-1997, a feat that has been unmatched in the large band category to date.
The late Jit Samaroo, the band’s legendary arranger, took Renegades to nine victories with six of the songs written by Kitchener, a couple from De Original De Fosto Himself and one from Baron.
This year Renegades broke their 21-year drought with a Duvone Stewart arrangement of Voice’s Year For Love.
Last year at the inaugural Big 5 concert the band paid tribute to Samaroo with a medley of excerpts of his winning arrangements, then stole the show with And I’m Telling vocalised by new local sensation Ariel Cowie.
The band won Pan in the 21st Century in 2003. But more than that, and like Despers, Renegades has extensively travelled the world promoting pan in Asia, Africa, Europe and America, even playing at other countries’ national events.
Massy All Stars which has also enjoyed overseas recognition has chalked up many achievements including the pioneering of classical music played to calypso rhythms on the road. The band took first place in the Biennial Music Festival on six occasions; won Pan in the 21st Century twice, the Band of the Year title twice for its Carnival mas portrayals; and won the National Panorama title ten times.
Prolific arranger Leon “Smooth” Edwards was responsible for nine of those winning arrangements while Rudy Wells gave the band their first in 1973 with Kitchener’s Rainorama.
However, it is Smooth’s penchant for excitement that has given All Stars that distinct character.
Last year the band closed Big 5 and thrilled the crowd with their signature song Woman on the Bass.
Hadco Phase II, from the inception took the bold decision to play original compositions in Panorama, primarily composed and arranged by its leader and musical director Len “Boogsie” Sharpe. After creating history in 1987 by becoming the first unsponsored band to win the National Panorama competition, and do so with its own song, This Feeling Nice sung by Denyse Plummer, the band won another six titles, all arranged by Boogsie, the last one in 2014.
Republic Bank Exodus has been National Panorama champions four times, the first in 1992 with Savannah Party by David Rudder and arranged by Pelham Goddard, and the last of them in 2004 with De Fosto’s War, also arranged by Goddard.
The band has also been Caribbean pan champs, National Steelband Music Festival champions three times, and World Steelband Music Festival champions twice.
At the last Big 5, the band brought together steel and brass for a fantastic performance and no doubt will be looking to top that performance this time.