Book launched on Desperadoes: Musical Conquerors

Musician Chantal Esdelle, author of  Desperadoes – Musical Conquerors Edison Holder and Kenneth Charles at the launch of book. -
Musician Chantal Esdelle, author of Desperadoes – Musical Conquerors Edison Holder and Kenneth Charles at the launch of book. -

Desperadoes – Musical Conquerors takes its reader on “a chronological journey of the history of Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, noting several critical events and paying homage to key personalities, such as Lennard “Spike Jones” Edwards, Carl Greenidge, Clive Bradley, Rudolph “The Hammer” Charles, Roy Cape, Pat Bishop, Raymond “Artie” Shaw, Robert Greenidge, David Davis, Ursula Tudor, Dennis “Tash” Ash, (and) Carlton “Zanda” Alexander just to name a few,” a release said.

Edison Holder wrote the book and it was launched on October 27 at West Indian Tobacco Company, Champs Fleurs.

The release added that the book examines the orchestra’s place in TT’s political and social climate and provides supporting anecdotes and testimonies.

The book details the history of the orchestra from its origins in the 1930s, early successes, triumphs and trials all the way through to 2020, the release added. To tell its story it uses images, newspaper clippings and stories.

Edison Holder author of Desperadoes – Musical Conquerors addresses the audience at the launch of the book at West Indian Tobacco Company, Champs Fleurs. -

Holder is a long-standing member of the band. He joined in 1980 and then played the double second in the band’s stage side until 1991, when he migrated to the US, the release said.

He participated in 12 Panoramas, two music festivals and performed with the band at Carnegie Hall, Apollo Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York and Philadelphia Academy of Music between 1987 and 1989.

He also worked as a journalist at the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian and Express.

Holder has a BSc in corporate communications from the University of Baltimore, the release said.

At the launch, Holder said he chose the phrase “musical conquerors” because, “There’s a thing called the ‘aesthetics of music’ which talks about the ability of music to connect to the human senses, and when you listen to Desperadoes play music, it always connects to the people, whether it’s Bradley, Beverly or Zanda or Robert…

“That is because when the players play, they play with (such) an emotion and a passion that you don’t just hear music, it connects to you.,,

Members of Desperadoes Steel Orchestra perform at the launch of Desperadoes – Musical Conquerors authored by band member Edison Holder. Edison Holder. -

“Desperadoes does not just perform music for execution’s sake, but in so doing, has the ability to ‘conquer’ the hearts and minds of listeners the world over.”

Using an example from Panorama 1982 and an excerpt from a section of his book titled From Jeers to Cheers, Holder described how the band was able to turn a “booing, heckling, audibly displeased audience” into a cheering one, the release said.

He also recalled the band having a rehearsal for a performance at Carnegie Hall and the conductor of the New York Pops coming to hear the band practise.

“Then he said he was going to make a change to the programme indicating that (NY Pops) would play before (Desperadoes), then (Desperadoes) would play, then (NY Pops) would play again, and it was a wise choice, because at the end of our performance of Polovtsian Dances and Orpheus in the Underworld, the place was in an uproar,” he was quoted as saying.

Holder recalled the conductor of the New York Pops subsequently told the orchestra that Desperadoes was the “Rolls Royce of classical music.”

Musician Chantelle Esdelle hosts the launch of the book on Desperadoes Steel Orchestra titled Desperadoes – Musical Conquerors written by Edison Holder. -

“Desperadoes was not even able to perform its final piece, Blueboy’s (SuperBlue) Rebecca, because the audience was on its feet with a standing ovation for an extended period of time,” the release said.

He provided other examples like these in the book and said that these activities were “unprecedented.”

“And this is what Desperadoes has done, and that is why the title of the book is Musical Conquerors’…we did not just conquer Panorama or festival…we conquered the world,” Holder said in the release.

Desperadoes – Musical Conquerors is
available for pre-order from the band. For more info: e-mail or call 381-8679.


"Book launched on Desperadoes: Musical Conquerors"

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