CHAMPS Katzenjammers and "big band" RBC Redemption Soundsetters led by arranger Winston Gordon showed the standard of pan has gone a notch above at the "Big Yard", Queen's Park Savannah, last Sunday.
Opening the Medium Band category in the sweltering afternoon sun, Steel Explosion played a slow version of Terrence BJ Marcelle's "San Fernando Has Spoken" composed by Winston Scarborough. The band placed 14th scoring 251 points.
One hour later Buccoo Buccooneers of Chance Street opened with a spirited start to their rendition with a long run at the end of the first chorus playing "Vibes" arranged by Seion Gomez and composed by Mark Loquan, Ken Philmore and Destra Garcia.
The band played an excellent ramajay in the middle of the change key and to the end with the bassline and tenors playing intricate pieces. The band placed second scoring 271 points.
The two bands with the most to gain on Carnival Saturday night are Courts Sound Specialists Of Laventille and Valley Harps of Petit Valley, Trinidad. Both bands tied for third. Sound Specialists played "The Player" arranged by Ken Philmore and composed by Mark Loquan and Destra Garcia. The band scored 270 points
Valley Harps and arranger Michelle Huggins-Watts played Vibes also composed by Mark Loquan, Ken Philmore and Destra Garcia. Valley Harps is the "dark horse" in the race.
Last year's Medium band champs Katzenjammers of Black Rock and arranger Edwin Pouchet enjoyed a real "bacchanal" evening in front the North and Grand Stands. The band played "This Is Bacchanal" composed by Alvin Daniel. The timing of the band was excellent, and it is clear this music will evolve in the final. Pouchet is using a very aggressive strategy. Katzenjammers placed first scoring 275 points.
Carib Dixieland and arranger Leon "Smooth" Edwards played a good rendition of "Play Yuh Self" composed by Clive Telamaque. The band placed 11th scoring 255 points.
The last band in the Medium category was West Side Symphony. The band played "Ah Cyah Wait To Jam" arranged by Kareem Brown and composed by Avis Bruce.
At this time pan lovers in the North and Grand Stands were getting restless awaiting the big bands to hit the stage.
Some pan lovers have expressed the view that it may be a good time for Pan Trinbago to reconsider hosting the Small Band semi-finals together with the Medium and Large categories.
The level of arrangements has clearly risen so this year among the large bands with Nightingales waking up the North Stands.
Phase II Pan Groove and Neal and Massy All Stars both scored 268 points for their renditions of "Archbishop of Pan" and "Play Yourself", respectively among the "big guns".
Phase II playing Len "Boogsie" Sharpe arrangement of "Archbishop of Pan" played their hearts out to the judges. Precision was timely; accuracy and the flow of the rhythm enhance the tenors and bass to evolve in the last change key. Boogsie must have something special for this song.
All Stars played a classical soca rendition with all the frontline panmen moving the same way. The band really put everything into its performance and is clearly favourites to win come Carnival Saturday night.