Patrick Spicer, trombonist and stalwart of the Trinidad and Tobago live music scene, recently passed away.
He performed with many bands, both in Trinidad and internationally and was a dedicated teacher in recent years.
His passing is a significant loss to the country’s music scene in general and the brass community in particular, which is larger than some of those reading this may think.
Spicer, as he was known to many that worked with him, started his career with the TT Regiment Band in 1968 and left, requesting discharge, in 1977.
He then moved into performing with contemporary groups playing disco and 70s funk. He was a member of Kalyan for 12 years, recording a number of albums with the band. They worked the Carnival season each year and then toured Europe and the US during the other months. making it a full-time job. The group enjoyed an international reputation, even sharing the stage with the Jackson 5. Following his time with Kalyan, Spicer became a long-time member of the famous Roy Cape All Stars, contributing to its unique, brass-infused soca with artists such as Destra, Blaxx and Nigel and Marvin Lewis.
In the early 2000s he became a mainstay of the recording scene, lending his expertise to a new generation of music producers and arrangers, including the late Sheldon $hel $hok” Benjamin, Daryl Braxton and Anastas Nas-T” Hackett. Many of these hitmakers lacked the formal musical training to score brass charts. Spicer became a valuable asset to them as he would take their hummed brass lines and transform them into complete harmonised arrangements on the spot in the studio.
I was fortunate enough to work with Spicer in the Calypso Monarch band under Errol Ince for a few years. He knew many calypsoes from memory, not just the notes but the style and how the various parts would fit together. I was new to Trinidad, but had been working as a professional trombonist for 15 years. In an early rehearsal I remarked that I felt certain rhythms weren’t being played correctly.
Spicer let me know how things were: “You might play it that way elsewhere, but in TT, we play it like this.” And he was absolutely right!
In recent years, Spicer was often seen teaching a new generation of trombonists at the birdsong Academy in Tunapuna, passing on his wealth of knowledge and giving young players the opportunity to hone their skills. He provided a link to the vibrant live music scene of the 70s and a was a strong part of any brass section he played with, right up to 2019, when he played in Brass-o-rama, always playing with authority and style.
Spicer, I hope to see you in a calypso band in the sky one day.
Spicer is survived by his daughter Rhonda, son Shivon, common-law wife Julia, brother Tony, sisters Glen and Marva and grandchildren Yasmin, Yanik and Yohan.
Aidan Chamberlain is assistant professor of music – trombone at the University of TT