The Journey of A Pan Man


The first time I saw Despers, I was with my brother Norman in 1981. They were performing at the Birmingham Odeon, (as part of their UK tour). The whole audience was transfixed, we were amazed with the standard and sound of the music. Robert Greenidge gave a great performance withTaj Mahal. This was the first time I had seen a steelpan soloist in action. This performance changed my life. I knew there and then that I would become a professional steelpan solo performer.

Robert Greenidge Pan Solo to view click link

My brother and I bought the two albums by Desperadoes and Taj Mahal at the end of the show. Once home we began to learn the full musical arrangements including the solos. I recall spending hours upon hours at my parents’ house playing these records over and over trying to work out Robert Greenidge’s pan solos. We also adapted some of the Clive Bradley arrangements for our own Birmingham based Maestro Steel band led by my brother Norman Stewart.

Maestro Steel Orchestra Pan Here to Stay arranged by Norman Pan Maestro & Mighty Jamma

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Our passion for the steel pan continued to grow and we started following the Trinidad Steel bands very closely. Even though it was difficult to get audio recordings of the bands we managed to get a few. One of the albums that is still very memorable for me is the great classic “Pan In Honey”. The famous tracks many people remember from this album “Pan In Harmony” by Clive Bradley; Despers panorama piece’s like “Ah Going and Party Tonight” arranged by the late Master Arranger Clive Bradley 1982 ( sang by Calypsonion Lord Nelson ) and; the monster winning arrangement of Clive Bradley’s “Rebecca” (Sang by Calypsonion “Super Blue” ) that gained Despers another Panorama victory in 1983, most defiantly a true master piece.

1986 was the first year that Norman and I visited Trinidad & Tobago – the land of Pan. This was a great year with the hit song by David Rudder “The Hammer ” (this song was dedicated to the late great Rudolph Charles, The General of Desperadoes, who sadly had passed away 1985). Both Desperadoes and Trinidad All Stars played the Hammer that year, butLeon Smooth’s Edward’s arrangement of The Hammer for Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars swept the whole Savanna and the judges off their feet- gaining another Panorama Victory for Trinidad All Stars.

Arranger Leon Smooth Edwards and myself in Trinidad All Stars Pan Yard

In 1986 Trinidad All Stars visited England as part of the Caribbean Focus Tour. For their Birmingham show, Maestros Steel band was privileged to be the guest band at the show. That was how I made contact with World Renowned Soloist & Arranger Yohan Popwel.

On my return visits to Trinidad I would stay with Yohan; this was like paradise for me because Yohan’s house was central to both bands,All Stars and Despers. I also got back in touch with good friend Dane Gouston who also had visited England with All Stars..

Leon Smooth Edwards arrangment of Woman on the Bass by Trinidad All Stars Panorama 1980

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Good Friend Excellent entertainer panist Dane Gulston & myself @ Trinidad All Stars Panyard

Dane is so full of Charismaand showmanship a true inspiration to any Pan player.

Dane Gulston Solo Brooklyn NYLive

We recall late one night when Norman, Yohan and I were sitting outside talking and could hear three of the top bands in the world Desperadoes, Trinidad All Stars, and Renegades practicing – depending on which way the wind was blowing. This was really amazing: to hear the sound of live pan being blown by the wind. That’s why Trinidad is defiantly the home of the Steelband, cause to have three great bands with over 120 members per band rehearsing in the open so close to each other and; no complaints from any of the residents – this really is amazing. The great thing is that Steelband accommodates all the generations of the community; from great grandparents to grandchildren. How many opportunities are there in life for intergenerational activities? Where else can young and old can learn, create and enjoy the same activity and have mutual enjoyment? This provides a positive environment for youngsters and, at the same time, gives a common goal to work towards.

Almost 20 years later,2009 I am in Trinidad again, travelling with my brother Norman and friends from the UK. Norman played, Double Seconds with the Desperadoes Steel Orchestra – a long awaited dream come true. Most of my time, I spent with Desperadoes. It seemed that anywhere I went I ended back with Desperadoes. Robert Greenidge’s arrangement of ‘Pan Redemption’ was great, and the band was welcoming and full of love. It was a real pleasure to be with the band for the whole season. The amount of dedication that is put into perfecting the music can only be described as pure love and commitment . The rehearsal started at around 7pm and finished round about 3am the following morning. This was the regime every night for the two weeks we were there. What is even more amazing is that the players are so accustomed to the Carnival practice routine they still got up to go to work and school and made it in on time!

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The Pan Yard vibes was great with food and drinks served all night, with of course sweet, sweet pan music. Every player and section of the band was tested on how well they knew the music and only the best were chosen for the final night’s performance. This was quite a hard job for the management and section leaders. In total there was about 180 members all working hard to make the final performance, but the band could only have a maximum of 100 players on final night.

Robert Greenidge Arrangement of Musical Magnum by Desperadoes Steel Orchestra Panorama 2010

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The winning band “Silver Stars” is one of the oldest bands in Trinidad, and gladly claimed their first Panorama Victory 2009 performing “First in Line “. Len Boogies Sharp’s Band “Phase II Pan Grove” placed 2nd with Magic Drum, and Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars, placed 3rd, with Leon Smooth’s arrangement of “Pan Rivalry” Robert Greenidge’s arrangement of Pan Redemption place Desperadoes 4th . This was the top four Big Bands

Len Boogsie Sharp Arrangment & Composition Pan Army by Phase II Pan Grove Panorama 2010

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Master Arranger Composer Len Boogsie Sharp & Myself waiting

Len Boogsie Sharp Pan �Solo My Way To View click link below

2009 was also a great pleasure to witness Yohan Popwell gain another Panorama victory in the Medium category with his band Clico Sforzata

Yohan Popwell Arrangement of Smooths Sailing Solo HarmonitePanorama 2010

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Ace Arranger Yohan Popwell & myself

Jamma & Norman  would like to thank the Management team  and entire family of Desperadoes for making Carnival 2009 such a great experiences and of course not forgetting our wonderful  host Yohan Popwell  and Family.

Desperadoes Manger Finbar & Myself Panorama 2009

The Arrival of Electronic Steelpan Midi Controllers

Now we see new projects on the horizon like the electric midi controllers made in the pattern of Steelpans. This is a great breakthrough for Panist because it allows us the freedom of using their skills with modern day technology. The beauty with these instruments is that you can hook them up to a computer and use them with music programs which opens a wind range of sounds and instruments, hence the panist  does not have to learn to play keyboards to get access to the thousands of sound modules that is out there.

What makes these instruments suitable for Pan players is the fact the notes are laid out in the circle of 4th & 5th the great discovery of the Trinidad genius Tony Williams. My first in counter with one of these sound modules was the PANKAT with notes hexagon shaped  it seams very similar to the original Spider web pan. This demonstration of the PANKAT I have used a sound other than the steelpan, but obviously the technique of a panist.

Mighty Jamma demonstrates the PANKAT

Jamma Salmon & Jamani

Recently I had the great pleasure of meeting another magnificent genius “from the Land of Pan Trinidad & Tobago ” Salmon Cupid the inventor of the Electronic Pan ( Epan ) from the moment I saw the pan come out of the case, I knew I wanted one. I had been following cupid on the net, but meeting him in person and seeing and playing the epan  as a panist I just knew that this is an  invention that is bringing pan forward in an unimaginable way. Just  the size of how neatly it fits in your home, and you can practice with head phones, it is like magic, I would defiantly recommend the epan for any serious panist to have as well as an the original pan.

Mighty Jamma demonstration on the e.pan

The epan has all the modern functions to hook up with your pc, but  the lay out and shapes of the notes are  closer to an original pan, and it has excellent casing for transportation.

Sometimes I feel some panist don’t understand the fact that these new creations are not here to replace the original steelpan but to bridge the gap with authentic  & modern  day technology .

I feel we  have to be thankful as panist  that we have lived to see this  kind of technology developed in our life time.

Mighty Jamma Demonstation  epan Show time Panorama 2011

Jamani Stewart Young Steelpan ambassador

The journey of the Pan Man continues with father & son using traditional and electronic steelpan midi controllers

15 yr Jamani Stewart 1st demonstration on epan

15yr Jamani 2nd Demonstration on epan

It must remembered that the electronic midi controllers are not here to take away from the amazing beauty and craftsmanship of the pan maker , but it is an extra tool for panist to use along side there PC & music programs.,

I would like to finish off with thanking the lord Jesus Christ for the wonderful gift of Steelpan, life, knowledge & Understanding.

I hope you enjoyed sharing this: The Journey of A Pan Man, as much as I am enjoying  living the wonderful experiences in the journey and putting this together to share with you.

Please feel free to share this with your friends & Family.

God Bless

Mighty Jamma Pan Solo Amazing Grace To view click link

To see more pictures and hear live audio samples please visit

One thought on “The Journey of A Pan Man

  • 8th May 2013 at 5:03 am

    Fantastic submit we as well as thanks for the information.
    Schooling happens to be a sticky subject matter. Nonetheless, continues to be on the list of top subject areas of all time.
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