I have come to believe that it’s very unfair to compare panorama arrangers of today with the great arrangers of the last century.
As a matter of fact, it’s even unfair to compare today’s work by veteran arrangers still with us with their past presentations, when most of us believe that their best work was done decades ago.
Why do I say this?
Because I think that the most important factor that’s overlooked when we critique panorama music is the source material.
Now, before anyone becomes upset, this is not a criticism of today’s music.
Modern soca music is what it is; enjoyable uptempo party music for the masses, influenced by Jamaican stylings and provided for the most part by DJs, and that’s great.
It’s what the fans demand.
But in the latter half of the last century, most of the calypso music available for steelbands were created by people who loved and were involved with the steelband ,and composed their music with the steelband in mind consciously or unconsciously.
As I would say, they created music “with a pan in dey heads”.
“Pan friendly” music that allowed the arrangers to express the full range of the pan including its vibration and emotional impact, not just it’s spectacular artistry.
And therein lies the difference.
At least, that’s how I see it!