Over the course of the last year ACTT lobbied for the creation of a ‘President’s Command Performance’ as the signal event for Republic Day in Trinidad and Tobago. The event is meant to be ‘the black tie event of the social calendar’ where the best of our best are showcased onstage. The show culminates with a signature speech by the President and a gesture on his part. In his generosity and with vision His Excellency the just demitted President of the Republic Professor George Maxwell Richards agreed to the event- and to make it one of his legacies to the Office of the President.
Due to programming conflicts the inaugural performance could not have been held on Republic Day 2012. Many scheduling conflicts later it was finally decided that the Command Performance would be the President’s last event and act before the inauguration of our fifth President of the Republic. The Command Performance was held at Central Bank on Sunday 17 March 2013 featuring an extraordinary showcase of artists, from: storyteller Paul Keens Douglas; operatic genius Eddie Cumberbatch; dance guru Sat Balkaransingh; cuatro virtuoso Robert Munroe; a historic All-Star recreation of Lovey’s Band- the first band that recorded T&T’s music 100 years ago; and pan master Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe. The show was ably MCed by Dennis Mc Comie and His Excellency delivered a stirring speech on the need for ‘Restoration’ using the state of the President’s House as a metaphor for the state of the nation. The speech is available here.
PICTURES ARE AVAILABLE HERE
Despite the gloom of this seemingly blighted republic, there are points of light. Despite being cursed with leaders unable to convert a bounty of human, natural and financial resources into a golden community, there’re stars pointing us true North…
Three weeks ago, possibly our two greatest young musicians shared the stage at Live Art Bistro on Albion Street—jazz drummer/pannist Sean Thomas and jazz trumpeter Brownman. Bassist BJ Saunders ably accompanied the two virtuosos. The show was epic, probably better than anything else in the world that night… It was strap-on-your-seat-belt-jazz with a blistering set. Both musicians matched each other note for beat. Both are super-skilled, straight-ahead players with very sophisticated jazz vocabularies. They experimented with tone, colour, pace and time-signatures. You could feel atoms electrify as they deconstructed songs from Brownman originals to Duke Ellington’s “Caravan”.
The two are equals in skill—but have very different trajectories. This is about Trinidad’s continuing tragic failure to create systems to facilitate its geniuses. Simply put: Sean stayed, Brownman left. And that matters. Brownman—now based in Toronto—is listed by Air Canada as one of the “Top 10 reasons to visit Toronto” and is touted in its mainstream press as “Canada’s preeminent jazz trumpeter”. With almost 300 recording appearances and over 4,000 live performances, Brownman has seven different bands. He’s performed or recorded with the likes of Wayne Shorter, Paul Simon, KRS-1, Nelly Furtado and the Dave Matthews Band. His accolades include Canadian National Jazz Awards, a Toronto Independent Music Award and a BRAVO! channel documentary on his life. His career was facilitated by one of the most sophisticated cultural industry systems in the world—Canada’s. Read the rest of this entry