Jit Sukha Samaroo – king of the round table
Trinidad and Tobago is probably the cruellest society in the world. Not only do we pay lip service to the Arts but, even more dramatically, we does play de arts with lip service. The ongoing list of discarded and unsung cultural icons is a veritable who’s who, growing exponentially in real time – Beryl Mc Burnie, Leroy Clarke, The Mighty Terror, Felix Roach, Bertie Marshall, Pat Bishop, John Agitation, Lennox ‘Bobby’ Mohammed, Winsford Devine et al. So what does this have to do with Jit Samaroo?
This humble, reserved, unassuming musical genius was born and bred in the quiet village of Surrey in Lopinot, one of the five parallel valleys of the Northern Range, Trinidad. A natural watershed of cultural cross-fertilization is derived mainly from the tactile blending of French, Spanish, African and Amerindian ancestry. From birth, Jit’s musical skills were inculcated and influenced by his mother and the old Parranderos
with traditional rhythms of Parang
. Over time, he honed his craft under the tutorship of Dr Patricia Bishop, Dr Gordon Maliphant, Landeg White, Winifred Sitahal and Fr. John Sewell.Steelpan Master Craftsman Bertram ‘Birch’ Kellman introduced the 17-year old fledgling to the Renegades
steel orchestra located in La Cou Harp
, one of the most feared areas of Port-of-Spain, in 1967. With a wry sense of humour, Jit tranquilised these Bad Johns
on the opening night of his legendary association with an arrangement of The Ormond Brothers’ One Bad Apple
; they played until round about midnight…I daresay that what permeated Jit’s subconscious apart from music, was discipline.
Over the years I have had several professional engagements with him, either recording The Samaroo Jets, Cordettes, Renegades, Arima Angel Harps steel orchestras or private sessions for individuals including Myrtle Sammy and Mark Loquan. Jit always
beat the clock by five to ten minutes, well-rehearsed and ready to play.
In 1997 Francesca Campi, Managing Director of the Italian Label CAM
, invited me to record the album CAM’S Movie Soundtracks Caribbean Style
. Jit selected fourteen songs from a list of twenty-five. He skilfully and tastefully adapted these compositions originally scored for conventional symphonic instruments to every known rhythm of our fun, sea and sun archipelago – a production
Despite being crucified upside down, scorned and rebuked by his peers, business associates and society at large, Jit has undertaken, in a magnanimous gesture of kindness and generosity, to turn the other cheek
as he celebrates his 64th
birthday on February 24th
. Unknown to all but few, Jit Samaroo has been custodian of The Holy Grail
for the past twenty years and will afford his detractors a sip of the elixir of forgiveness,
a special brew contained in the exhalted silver chalice. A finer example oftolerance
I have not encountered.Tune in to Power 102 FM or log in to www.power102fm.com
from 7.00 p.m. on te evening of Monday 24th
February for a special one-hour tribute to Jit.Simeon L. Sandiford