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Crown Point, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO Weather :: 29C Showers in the vicinity

showers in the vicinityShowers in the vicinity 29°C

Humidity:
70%
Wind Speed:
21 KMH
Wind Direction:
SE (130°)
Barometer:
1015 mb
Dewpoint:
23°C
Heat Index:
32°C
Wind Chill:
29°C
Visibility:
11 km
Reunion Band outstanding at Panyard Jam Session
Published: 
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It was an evening of smooth jazz with a funky Caribbean twist. But more than that, it was a massive display of class, dedication and an obvious love of music by featured entertainers at the International Jazz Panyard Jam Session hosted by Phase II Pan Groove Steel Orchestra and Hadco at its pan theatre on Hamilton Street, Woodbrook, on Saturday evening (April 30).

Held in celebration of International Jazz Day, the playbill showcased the myriad musical stylings of the Douglas Redon Ensemble, The Reunion Band, and the Phase II orchestra in a four-hour programme joyfully executed before a full house of patrons gathered in a transformed space that was aesthetically pleasing and comfortably laid out.

Highlight of the night, though, was the outstanding performance by the Reunion Band, led by acclaimed T&T trumpeter/percussionist Etienne Charles that featured Leon “Foster” Thomas on steelpan, Ron Reid (bass), Luisito Quintero (percussion), Obed Calvarie (drums), Godwin Louis (saxophone), Brett Williams (keyboards) and vocalists Vaughnette Bigford and Roger George.

The amalgamation opened its set giving new treatment to Madam Blondell, a traditional calypso selection from a past era in Trinidad, arranged by Reid on the pan jazz CD Reid, Wright and be Happy released in 2003.

On April 18, this year, in an interview with Carol Banks Weber, a contributor to the AXS website, Charles had this to say: “I was raised on calypso and reggae, which at the core, are about educating the people about the actual situation while entertaining, as opposed to what may be implied. Keeping in that tradition as a composer and improviser, I try to continue the example that was set for me by my mentors and idols. Horace Silver once said (I believe in the liner notes of Serenade to a Soul Sister) jazz compositions should have melodic beauty, meaningful simplicity, harmonic beauty, rhythm, and environmental, hereditary, regional and spiritual influences.”

All those elements were present in the group’s musical repertoire that extended to include Bigford’s smooth and classy interpretation of Sergio Mendes’ composition So Many Stars, sung, skilfully, in the past by international songbirds Natalie Cole and Sarah Vaughn. Bigford would return later to revive fond memories of the music of the 1970s with a jazzy rendition of Can You Love Me (originally sung by Alsop “Steelo” David with music band Kalyan in 1977), in which we heard some authoritative bass riffs from Reid on the acoustic bass.

Roger George continued to astound listeners with his extensive vocal range. He was smooth and intent in rendering Turn Your Lights Down Low from Bob Marley’s Exodus album of 1977, yet managed to ramp up the performance with a flurry of soulful notes in the upper register that earned spontaneous shouts of approval from listeners. Audience participation eagerly accompanied his other offering of the late Kitchener’s Cricket Champions from the album Legacy of a Champion – 1967-1971. “England must understand, we are the champions,” was part of the refrain the crowd sang to the calypso that was written to celebrate the West Indies’ first victory over England in the second test match played at Lord’s in June 1950.

The audience was reminded that this Kitchener masterpiece was composed long before Rudder’s Rally ‘round the West Indies and DJ Bravo’s Champion.

Only managed to catch the last two selections from opening act the Douglas Redon Ensemble, but heard the band’s clean, clear and precise playing, led by an artiste who is a bassist, pannist, composer, arranger, teacher, and someone who has quietly and powerfully contributed to the performance, presentation and survival of kaiso jazz, pan jazz, pan and calypso music.

It would appear as though some sound engineers continue to struggle in their efforts to reproduce the music of a steel orchestra. Evidence of this surfaced when Phase II took the stage to present its repertoire. From its opening selection titled Something Special, it was evident the sound was too loud. When “Boogsie” began his solos the music sounded discordant, making it difficult to appreciate the aggregation’s carefully chosen titles that included Andre Tanker’s Forward Home, Sparrow’s Rose, and Jule Styne’s It’s Magic from 1947, among others.

Saturday’s event, blessed by sporadic drizzles, was an awesome experience in that it was a near flawless production. Full credit must go to the Hadad brothers (John, Joseph, Robert) of Hadco, and event implementer Danielle Espinet. Hadco plans to make Jazz Panyard Jam Session an annual event, to be held to commemorate International Jazz Day which is observed on April 30. 

US-based Roger George performs at the International Jazz Panyard Jam Session hosted by Phase II Pan Groove Steel Orchestra and Hadco. Phase II Pan Groove performs at last Saturday’s International Jazz Panyard Jam Session.
Fearless slam poets blazing new trails
Published: 
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Power of the Word —Part 3

Anyone who feels the younger generation has nothing much to say has clearly not been going to the annual First Citizens National Poetry Slam competition, which last Sunday night, to a sellout audience, showcased 13 talented, thought-provoking performers who were all so good that they brought the house down at Globe Cinema. 

Seth Sylvester won the slam in a soulful piece about overcoming a gangster state of mind; but the judges had a tough job selecting just one winner.

The Poetry Slam event, part of the recent Bocas Lit Fest, was by turns funny, searing, angry and imaginative, with some hard hitting social and political critiques as well as more personal tales of transcendence. 

Themes were wide-ranging: from what it means to be a real man, to T&T’s earthquake-inducing corruption, to traumas of incest, violence, and divorce, to funny pieces including one on recession job-hunting and another on a man’s love-hate relationship with Flow TV. 

In a spoken word show that was outstanding for the surprising quality, diversity and bravery of its content as well as for the smoothness of its organisation, the Poetry Slam competition demonstrated that if the model of the calypso tent is on the wane, then the spoken word format is breathing new life, relevance and style into T&T’s oral performing arts—and is capable of drawing a big audience of young listeners.

This is the second year of the National Poetry Slam but the fourth year that First Citizens has sponsored the Spoken Word event that offers a top prize of $20,000.

 So what, exactly, is spoken word? It’s poetry for the stage rather than the page. It's an oral art form where the aesthetics of word play, intonation and voice inflection create a memorable experience for the listener, says Wikipedia. While often associated with hip-hop culture, spoken word also has strong ties to storytelling, modern poetry, poetry slams, post-modern performance, and monologue theatre, as well as jazz, blues, folk music, and even comedy routines. 

The Guardian interviewed 26-year-old spoken word poet Jean-Claude Cournand at his Trincity base recently, to hear his thoughts on this oral art form. Cournand founded the non-profit youth development organisation 2 Cents Movement in 2012, and is the person behind the scenes helping a whole new generation of spoken word artists to tell their own stories, including performers at the Poetry Slam.

“Oral traditions are a fundamental foundation for cinema, music, rap, poetry, narratives, many forms,” believes Cournand, stating:

“A good storyteller, to me, is one of the greatest and most powerful persons in any society, whether it’s Barrack Obama telling a story through a speech, or a corporate communications officer drafting a narrative for his company. Storytelling is central.” 

Once a formal debater at college, Cournand decided to use performing arts and digital media to develop his own voice as a spoken word poet. He now helps others do this, too, through the 2 Cents Movement, which develops performance art pieces to “challenge youth to think deeply, speak boldly, care selflessly and act decisively” on social issues.

Cournand wants 2 Cents Movement to be a sustainable, income earning business which helps youth develop—whether it’s through civic engagement, learning good performance skills, making art, or simply helping youth. 2 Cents Movement now has its own Trincity office space, and staff members including a director, an operations manager, and a small media team of a graphic artist, a videographer, and an artistic director. It has a current rehearsal core of 16 performance poets.

The 2 Cents Movement has been very popular in secondary schools, during annual tours and spoken word performance workshops there. “On an annual basis we work with over 30,000 people,” says Cournand. The 2 Cents Movement tours and teaches in over 50 secondary schools, he said; they are now going into primary schools; and the Movement organises the biggest annual Open Mic at UWI Speak and USC Speak.

Why do students like spoken word so much?

• Continued on Page A33

Jean-Claude Cournand
Stigma, what you do not know, hurts us
Published: 
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

I understand that you do not understand what I talk about, when I write about people who live and thrive with a mental illness, or who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. I quite get it that as a nation, T&T has not provided a context sufficient to help its populace appreciate these issues. 

I reason too, that everywhere in the world there are people like you and us. And wherever we are, there will always be people like you who ill-treat people like us. Along with our personal distress, we bear the suffering of the heartlessness that passes between you and us. We forgive you, mostly, knowing that it’s your unawareness that promotes the prejudice. 

It has to be confusing to you to see us changing from a frenzied Monday to a terrific Thursday—I know because all of you who have experienced my Mondays have no sympathy with me on Thursday—in fact you work overtime to let me know I have been unfriended. The stability on a terrific Thursday is perplexing because you have not tried to understand how bipolarity works. 

You show very little acceptance of us on our “Thursdays” proving you know nothing about separating what people experience and how they behave when their illness presents, as against their periods of better control. I know it because I see you behaving like you’re from the other side of some divide. 

There isn’t a divide really, but we know you pride yourself in thinking “I am perfect, they are mental” so to you there’s an active gulf of separation. We know because of how often you say it and act it out. And it does not matter who you are—politician, priest, police, doctor, lawyer, pundit, teacher, citizen T&T, you’re all guilty of avoiding us once you’ve encountered a moment when we are struggling to hold it together. 

And why should you not avoid us? There is no real reason to deal with “difficult” people. After all, there are so many people who it’s easier to be with! People who may be hiding behind megatons of pain and sadness but at least they’re smart enough to hide. We know that human beings are generally more comfortable with those who seem to have it together, the others really amount to nuisance value. 

We know it is baffling too, for you to appreciate that mental illness is not madness especially because all we ever talk about in this country is “she mad” and exclaim “he mad or what?” And when we want to belittle someone, we—citizenry and especially politicians and high office holders who have the sway of media—simply lose our eloquence, relegating every offender to “St Ann’s.” 

If you read this column regularly, you’ve probably heard me say all this and will hear me say it in the future. The reason is because how you think of us, what you’ve “learned” of us, and what you think you know about those who thrive—or don’t thrive—with mental illnesses/disorders, is mostly wrong and unchanging. And in the process, you end up stigmatising us, discriminating against us and generally mistreating us in a sustained campaign, because of your misinformation. 

What you may not realise is that anyone, including you, can be affected by a mental illness. What you may not know is that you well may be one of the 25 per cent of the world’s mentally ill. Sometimes too, we want you to stop pretending these disorders/illnesses do not exist among your friends and relatives. They do. We know. 

And sometimes we wish we could ignore you. Maybe if we stayed quiet, isolating ourselves from you and from the pressure your ignorance places on us we could all live peacefully. We know you know something of the issue, we regularly hear you call people you hate “schizoid.” And when you do our convictions about seclusion deepen. Sometimes we really wish you won’t be so uncouth about these matters. 

Not everything on the Internet is true, but there are so many solid resources that could aid your understanding, information which can help you see how retrograde we are about mental illness in T&T, if you care to learn. 

On so many occasions we want to remind you that “discipline, production, and tolerance” are called watchwords because we should be watching them and watching our conduct in light of them. Instead, in need of the realm of hope and prayer, we’re made to experience your boundless fires. 

But we know we have learned to be such a punishing, spiteful people. T&T prides itself about things like literacy rate, sexy accents, and happiness index, we boast of many universities, we pontificate as experts about everything under the sun, but always betray our ignorance with headlines like one last weekend, which nearly made me blow a whistle from irritation. This online machine, which boldly flies T&T’s colours, called a man with a disability a “retarded killer.” In 2016! 

• Caroline C Ravello is a strategic communications and media practitioner with over 30 years of proficiency. She holds an MA in Mass Communications and is pursuing the MSc in Public Health (MPH) from the UWI. Write to: mindful.tt@gmail.com

Cedros Sec looks for hat-trick
Published: 
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Cricket Whirl

Cedros Secondary school girls’ cricket team is seeking to become the National Champions in the PowerGen T20 Secondary School’s Cricket league for the third consecutive year (2014, 2015, 2016).

On Friday, the girls from the Southwestern Peninsula will be looking to get the better of Holy Name Convent Port-of-Spain at the National Cricket Centre in Couva.

The team has been doing a demolition job on cricket fields around the country for the past three years. In this year’s tournament, the girls have remained unbeaten, thus far, posting convincing wins. In their three years of competition the team has only lost a miniscule amount of matches.

Within the team exists promising and accomplished talent and over the tournament’s history, many titles have been bestowed on the players. 

The team is led by Rashme Deoajit, an unassuming yet highly effective dynamo, who comes from quite a humble background. 

Despite economic challenges and a poor record of attendance and academic performance at the primary level, Rashme has risen like a phoenix. In recent years, Rashme has been selected for training with the national junior teams. She won the PowerGen Female Cricketer of the Year award in 2014 and has received the attention of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board. She is also expected to produce good results at this year’s CSEC exams.

Antonia Sealey, a From Three student, was selected to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the 2016 CARIFTA games held in Grenada this year despite being only15 years old. She continues to represent her school at the Zonal and National levels having won medals in the 100m sprint, 4x100m relay, long jump and high jump events. In the PowerGen T-20 2014 Antonia has copped Most Outstanding Fielder and is aiming to add to her already impressive repertoire.

Keishelle James, a ‘nashy’ looking young lady can be compared to a chameleon. On first sight she is seemingly harmless and docile but once on the field she explodes into a fiery courier of lethal deliveries. With figures of 66 Not Out, 54 Not Out and 58 Not Out among the more impressive, CSS considers her to be one of the most valued resources in their arsenal. Ms. James makes the long and tedious journey from Icacos to ensure that she is in place for the necessary training and exposure. In the PowerGen T-20 2014, she received awards for Best Bowler and Most Runs.

Few have been privileged to hear Ronniella Ramsaroop speak but as they say, actions speak louder than words, for on the cricket field she ‘speaks’ volumes of talent , with the bat as well as the ball. She has won Most Valuable Player in thePowerGen T-20 Finals 2015. Teammate, Danniella Seepersad received this award in the 2014 T-20 Finals.

KekolaBhola has emerged as a prolific athlete and immerses herself into every aspect of school life – Aerobithon, Marathon, Football, Cricket, Kite-flying and Athletics- and her successes are many. She is being headlined as the one to bridge this team from its present ‘champion’ stature to its continued, future prowess.

In general, the team looks deceptively, like pushovers but this unit has been forged into such a powerhouse in which friendship, respect and discipline are as much a part of their identity as is their individual talents. They have been transformed into such a formidable force that they virtually stand out.

Cedros Secondary girls ready for success back row—Tishelle James, left, Kishelle James, Ronneilla Ramsaroop, Monique Clarckson, Nekesha Ramsey, Rashme Deoajit (captain), Daniella Seepersad. Front Akeilah Jerome, Kekola Bhola, Narsha St Louis, Antonia Sealy, Kayla Celestine, Crystal Simone.
Copper Knight to rule
Published: 
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
The Jeffrey Ross Racing Special

Copper Knight is capable of making amends for an extremely unlucky defeat nine days ago, when tackling seven rivals for the prestigious Lily Agnes Stakes over five furlongs of ‘good to soft’ Chester this afternoon.

There is an air of great expectation, this first day of the May meeting, around an historic Roodee ‘frying pan’ circuit, heralds a series of classic trials which lead up to the Epsom Derby next month. 

Plenty of reputations will be enhanced, and shattered, spring is definitely in the air and it’s significantly warmer, not before time.

Seconditis has again been plaguing my naps but patience is the supreme virtue, just a question of realising that our tried and tested approach always pays off, however it was extremely vexing at Windsor last week when twice-raced Copper King experienced a narrow defeat, by virtue of veering right across the track under Steve Drowne, should have won easily.

Significantly Drowne is replaced by James Doyle.

On the time-handicap Fiery Character, game winner at Newmarket on debut last month, is a likely problem and indeed there are five winners in the line-up but Copper King justifies serious each-way support, providing they all run.   

Once-raced Exoteric has a gilt-edged opportunity in the six-runner Maiden Stakes over ten furlongs, earlier this week we were assured this Khaled Abdulla-owned Champs Elysees colt is in good form and strongly-fancied by the Charles Hills camp.

Certainly his debut was full of promise, one-hundred and twenty-six days ago, Exoteric, a 10/1 chance, mainly due to being drawn worst on Wolverhampton Tapeta, made good headway down the far straight and stayed on strongly, beaten only two lengths, in a useful mile maiden race. Betting forecasts suggest Mulk will be odds-on, Sir Michael Stoute’s charge was beaten only three-quarters of a lengths by Sky Kingdom in the Wood Ditton at Newmarket last month, a race run over the Rowley Mile for un-raced three-year-olds. Sky Kingdom ran well in an HQ handicap last Saturday but that previous HQ form meant nothing, slow time and surrounded by a clutch of no hopers and non-triers!

A more serious rival might be Godolphin-owned newcomer, Huge Future, by Shamardal, a ‘favourite’ sire whose progeny usually smack of quality.

On the time-handicap and supported by encouraging reports Exoteric is an obvious each-way fancy, hopefully Darryll Holland will be positive, from the outset.

Somehow we don’t think Aidan O’Brien’s charge will have problems supplementing recent gains in a weak-looking Cheshire Oaks over twelve furlongs. If she can’t win this!

Forecast for Afternoon
Partly cloudy with winds from the eastsoutheast at 17 mph.
Forecast for Evening
Partly cloudy with winds from the eastsoutheast at 17 mph. Becoming fair with winds from the east at 6 mph.
Forecast for Overnight
Fair with winds from the east at 6 mph.
Forecast for Morning
Partly cloudy with winds from the eastsoutheast at 17 mph.
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