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Caribbean

Published on March 31st, 2016 | by The Trinidad Guardian

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Earl Rodney’s big wish

More recognition needed for one of the country’s top arrangers

Winning arranger of four out of eight attempts at Panorama (a 50 per cent winning achievement with second and third places thrown into the mix) is not too bad of a record for a “country-boy come to town” to jam against the likes of Bradley, Holman, Jules and other “big noise” arrangers of the day. Earl Bostic Rodney intervened in 1968 in the Panorama competition with Kitchener’s The Wrecker.

“It was an opening with drama and excitement that had not been previously experienced in a Panorama,” says Rodney, beating out the opening bars of his arrangement that won Solo Harmonites the Panorama competition. I wish I could reproduce on paper his verbal simulation of the arrangement. Check it on You Tube. The arrangement was among the first in the evolving trend of taking up the tempo but still weaving in the melody of the piece with extrapolations on the theme—there are those who would argue, Rodney amongst them, that the Panorama arrangements of the present era lack sweetness of melody, demonstrating only pan-playing virtuosity, but that’s another argument for another time.

To show to all those big, bad town arrangers that The Wrecker and his victory were no fluke, Rodney and Solo Harmonites had victories on three other occasions, once sharing the top spot (Play Mas) with Holman’s version of Sparrow’s Queen of the Bands. But going back to the start of his musical journey as a boy growing up in what must have then been considered a backwater of Trinidad, Guave Road, Egypt Village in Point Fortin, Rodney became aware of a musical melody through the bugles of the British military camp established in Point during World War II.

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