Jadon dazzles as Katzenjammers' youngest player

Jadon Phillip, nine, shows off his skills with Katzenjammers during the band’s performance in the Panorama medium band final at Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacelot, Tobago last Sunday. DAVID REID -
Jadon Phillip, nine, shows off his skills with Katzenjammers during the band’s performance in the Panorama medium band final at Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacelot, Tobago last Sunday. DAVID REID -

If you're a fan of Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra in Tobago or simply a pan enthusiast, chances are you've seen Jadon Ramsey Phillip.

He's the pint-sized, nine-year-old in the band's frontline and quite a sight to behold when performing alongside the older players.

The gifted pannist plays with an intensity which belies his age.

Newsday Kids sat down with Jadon on Wednesday at Katzenjammers Pan Theatre in Black Rock, three days after the band's third place finish in the Panorama medium band final in Tobago.

The event was held for the first time on Sunday at the Dwight Yorke Stadium parade ground, Bacolet.

Jadon said although he is still very young and has much to learn, he already has his sights set on becoming Tobago's next Duvone Stewart.

"He is my idol," he said of Stewart, an ace pan arranger, who led BP Renegades to two consecutive victories in the Panorama large band finals in 2018 and 2019. Renegades defended its title in last night's final at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

Jadon said he has spoken to Stewart about performing with Renegades next year.

"He has already told me he is looking forward to it. So, I will be playing for Renegades, Katzenjammers and East Side Dimension, so I could get three titles. Plus, it gives me the experience to play in the small, medium and large categories," he said with a mischievous smile.

Jadon Phillip, nine, plays the tenor pan for Tobago steelband Katzenjammers. - David Reid

On Tobago's historic hosting of the medium band final in Tobago, Jadon said the event was long overdue.

"I was very excited the final was in my home island because mostly it has been in Trinidad. So, this was a new experience for Tobago," he said.

Jadon is hoping Tobago will continue to be the venue for the final, "so we can pass on the experience of the pan to other countries, like Japan, that have really been into the pan."

Jadon said while he is pleased with the band's performance of Merchant's (Dennis Williams') Caribbean Connection, there was still some room for improvement.

"There was a mistake in the end and I told the captain about it."

It is said he has a knack for noticing the nuances in the sound of the pan and can memorise notes on an initial run of a piece.

Jadon comes from a pan-playing family.

His aunt, Beverly Ramsey-Moore became Pan Trinbago's first woman president in October 2018, and uncle Maxsom Ramsey led Katzenjammers' to victory in the recent THA Pan Champs competition.

Jadon Phillip wants to be as good as, or even better, than ace pan arranger Duvone Stewart. He wants to play for Stewart with BP Renegades in next year's Panorama. - David Reid

Jadon's mother, Alicia Ramsey-Phillip, was once an avid player but is now involved in the band's administration and his brother, Kersh is one of Tobago's young, gifted arrangers.

Kersh is credited with restoring pride to Belle Garden outfit, T&TEC New East Side Dimension, which placed second in the Panorama small band competition, last year. The band placed fourth this year.

Jadon said Kersh introduced him to the steelpan at the age of four and he has never looked back.

"I want to be just like him but I want to be better," he joked.

His sister, Ameedah, also plays with Katzenjammers but has taken time off to prepare for the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination.

The Black Rock Government Primary School student said he is proud to be Katzenjammers' youngest player.

"It feels great because I get all the attention," he said, bursting into laughter.

He said he has been in Katzenjammers' frontline since 2017 and enjoys playing the tenor pan.

"You don't have to do much, just use your hand all over in circle around the base (of the pan), with a deep slide inside. There are 39 notes in the tenor pan."

Jadon said he is not intimidated by crowds but thrives on it.

"There is no hesitation. I am very comfortable."

Jadon's competence as a player has caught the attention of not just the pan fraternity but civic, cultural and religious groups across Tobago.

Outside of the trophies he has accumulated with Katzenjammers, he has also won several individual awards, one of the most recent being a Twelve and Under competition, hosted by Channel Five, last year.

Jadon had played Kees Dieffenthaller's soca hit, Hello, on the pan. Last year, he also accompanied the band at an independence show in Trinidad as well as Carifesta.

So, how does he juggle his love for pan with his schoolwork, chores and other extra curricular activities?

"Well, ah fighting up with it," he admitted, adding his parents assist him with managing his time.

"It can be sometimes difficult with pan, school, football and playing games but my family has a very big heart."



"Jadon dazzles as Katzenjammers’ youngest player"

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