Hello TASSO Family – Update!

Hello TASSO Family – Update!

87 years

The history of Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra spans depression, wars, societal turmoil, and now, a global pandemic. We have weathered these changes with the spirit of resiliency that is the hallmark of the steelband movement.

We recognise the role of innovation in the history of Trinidad All Stars. We were blessed with the presence of Neville Jules in Hell Yard. It was Neville who first played with two sticks. It was Neville who created the family of steelpan instruments: giving tenors range, adding the guitar, tenor bass, and bass pans.

Virtually or in person, the ability to connect with each other and, in the case of artists, with an audience, is integral to our humanity. This is one reason that long, multiple lockdowns have been so hard.

If nothing else, 87 years has taught us to make lemonade from life’s lemons.

We have channeled the resiliency of the movement, the innovation of our foundation members, and the need of the artist to connect to an audience and worked hard throughout the pandemic. While we have not been able to practice and perform as we would like, we have taken the time to put in place the intangibles that will help sustain the Orchestra: this re-vamped website is one such initiative. Here one will find information on the Trinidad All Stars Seniors Foundation and the Trinidad All Stars Youth Steel Orchestra; here you can connect to our Fan Club, our store, soon with our tenants, and our Music Academy.

The orchestra that makes its home in Hell Yard, East Port of Spain, on the bank of the East Dry River; the orchestra that started – to quote David Rudder – out of pain, now enters its 87th year with our flag flying high.

No matter what life throws at us, Trinidad All Stars as an orchestra and as an institution will survive and thrive.

Join us for the journey!

2022

2022

2020 was novel – most of us had no perspective to draw upon to help us understand the pandemic and its effects.
Then in 2021 the hammer hit hard.
We learned – perhaps unwillingly – how fragile life is and the strength of becoming resilient.
As a community, we said final goodbyes to members as well as their own family members.
We could not be there in our numbers, but we know that our network rallied: each who suffered a loss had the prayers of many.

In the past year Trinidad All Stars has had to adapt to find ways to maintain and improve upon our musical skills and remain visible in our community and as performing artists.

Despite restrictions we were able to achieve the following:

  • Thanksgiving Mass at Holy Rosary Church
  • The naming of Neville Jules Junction
  • The opening of our “mini-mall”
  • Our appearance at Miami’s 2021 Carnival
  • #59 Duke Street was purchased
  • Beginning the refurbishment of the Pan Theatre
  • Five Saturday evenings live in August on 95.5
  • The launch of the virtual Pan in School for selected primary schools in the East Dry River area
  • The launch of our online store
  • TASSF opened an office on the property

Every activity required deliberate thought and actions that would allow for members and patrons to be safe, healthy, and happy.

We took calculated risks. All did not go as planned.
In fact, we fell flat on our faces at times – a sign though that we still have a passion for our art form.

Whatever is to come, Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra will remain relevant to the culture of our country.
Covid-19 continues to threaten our islands, but it has also helped us to learn who we are and what we need to do to live in relative safety.

WE will adapt as we have throughout our history.
WE will survive.
WE will thrive.

For #weareallstars #allstarsforever

Posterity

Posterity

Next time you are in our neck of the woods, look up.
His Worship, the Mayor of Port of Spain, Joel Martinez, has formally renamed the corner of George and Duke Streets, the Neville Jules Junction. Neville Jules was synonymous with Hell Yard from the age of fourteen until his death in 2020 at the age of 92.

Born on May 21st, 1927, in East Port of Spain, Neville Jules joined Second Fiddle (an early name for Trinidad All Stars) in 1941. Known for his dexterity and swift hands, Jules was an innovator and a creator, an arranger and player.

By 1943 it was Neville Jules who began the process of moving away from back-up rhythm provided by tenor-kettles, cuffbooms, and du-dups, to the modern musical instruments that exist today. He took us away from “beating pan” to “playing pan”, and was the first person to voice melody, harmony, as well as rhythm on pans.

Neville, achieving the 8 notes of the full musical scale, triggered a creative explosion as numerous pioneers joined the effort to increase the number of notes. To concentrate solely on pan development Jules entrusted the administration of the band first to Fisheye Olliverre and later Prince Batson. He assumed the captaincy from 1948-1970 and was then officially acknowledged as the 7th Captain of the band that emerged from Hell Yard.

He would go on to develop his ‘family of pans’ – the steel orchestra. These included the Guitar Pan, the 6-Bass, and the Tenor Bass, which he specifically developed for his tune of choice for the 1954 Music Festival.

That the band is at its core a creative, dynamic, disciplined unit, and tenacious in purpose is because of the culture that Neville Jules instilled in the band by his actions and deeds. Jules’ creativity was not limited to manipulating steel with fire: he was truly a gifted musician. Neville’s musical arrangements from the 1940s to the early years of the 2000s are testimony to the power and durability of his creative genius.

It was Neville who developed the ‘Bomb’ concept – the calypso-isation of European Classics. Practiced with bare fingers in the Garret where only one section of the band at a time could be accommodated, the whole band played together for the first time when all the Pans were brought down to the street and the ‘Bombs’ were dropped on J’ouvert mornings. Trinidad All Stars has won countless Bomb competitions and competes annually in the eponymous Neville Jules Bomb Competition.

Neville Jules is the rock upon which we stand as an orchestra and an institution.