Robert Greenidge - “From The Heart” -
Giving Up Money For Robbie
Robert Greenidge, pannist, composer and arranger is not as widely known in the broader West Indian Diaspora as one would expect of his level artistry. His musician contemporaries, and other cognoscenti, however, regard him highly and some of them demonstrated their regard by arranging the world premiere of Mr. Greenidge’s latest CD From The Heart. In an article written last December, see below, Terry Joseph describes how several musicians led by the celebrated percussionist and songwriter Ralph MacDonald sacrificed personal income to introduce the CD in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. One would perceive any lost to be short term. Recompense is sure to come from the CD’s successful launch and on-going sales of what is destined to be a collector’s item and, expectantly, a financial success.
Beyond that important business criterion, “From The Heart” also has the features of a political and economic harbinger. All the multiple facets of this collaborative act of vision, pride, leadership and excellence in artistic ability form a template for Caricom leaders. Would that they would truly see that industrializing the arts using the vast array of skills of accomplished West Indians, globally, could do more for our relative specks of space on the map and handful of collective citizens. It is time to leave the slave and kindred industries behind and give the world that which it yearns: our happy music and exciting performing arts. Messrs. Greenidge and MacDonald had the courage to forge a different path working straight “From The Heart” and with brains, too. [eCaroh / Ron August 2004]
Giving Up Money For Robbie
By Terry Joseph; December 12, 2003, Trinidad Express
Some of the world's most highly acclaimed jazz musicians are flying to Trinidad this evening to accompany pan virtuoso Robert Greenidge at the world premiere of his latest CD, From The Heart, which takes place tomorrow night, Under the Trees at Hotel Normandie.
Led by multiple Grammy Award winner and percussionist extraordinaire Ralph MacDonald, the group known as The New York All Stars, comprises saxophonist Tom Scott, drummer Chris Parker, Jeff Mironov on guitar, bassist Will Lee, vocalist Nadirah Shakoor and Clinton JR Crawford on keyboards. "It probably is the most important debut of a pan music CD ever, if you consider the international value of musical talent flying in for the show," said MacDonald, "but-and I am quoting my musicians here-this is not just another one-night stand."
MacDonald said the effort to get the group together and have them leave their various assignments to fly to Trinidad for a single performance should be seen as a tribute to pan in general-and Greenidge in particular.
"In order to make the trip, several of the musicians have had to request time off from contractual obligations in the US, making it the second time in as many months that they asked to be relieved, in order to go to Trinidad to do a show with the steelpan as its centrepiece.
"Now, this is quite apart from the personal loss to each player, since my people work for good money every night of the week in New York and play to huge audiences, so for them to volunteer to lose income and fly 4,000 miles to back Robert, just to make sure the CD makes its best possible debut, is something that should be doubly appreciated by everyone who comes to the premiere of From the Heart.
"This is very different from if they were flying to New Jersey or even California, as the producers with whom they work know those places and the frequency of flights to and from those destinations, but when they hear Trinidad, they think of a really far place and worry about the musicians returning on time; so it takes a lot more convincing.
"But all the musicians in the New York All Stars are pan music lovers and very responsible professionals. They have worked with Robert and also know pan through the work we do at Antisia studios. They have embraced the instrument and wish to do this gig to show their support for the steelpan and for a fellow performer," MacDonald said.
In October, for Pan Royale, the New York All Stars rendered almost exclusively original works by MacDonald and co-writers William Salter and William Eaton. Now they return to serve up Greenidge's efforts, which include hopefuls for Panorama 2004, among the tracks a poignantly titled "Dark Horse". Greenidge, who has been working as musical arranger with Solo Pan Knights over the past five years, is credited with having brought that band into the senior league, as most recently evidenced by its placing fifth among conventional steel orchestras in the final of this last Carnival's Panorama competition. This latest orchestral triumph comes after piloting the Witco Desperadoes to three of their record ten victories at the same annual contest. As a solo artist, he has produced several CDs and worked with the best-known names in the global music industry on albums, television, movies and live shows. He is also resident pannist with Jimmy Buffet's world-beating Coral Reefers Band.
Apart from work with MacDonald, Buffet and Despers, Greenidge's pan talent can be heard on albums by John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Grover Washington, Earth Wind and Fire, Barry Manilow, Taj Mahal, Van Dyke Parks and on Larry Graham's monsterpiece "One in a Million".
He has toured the Hawaiian Islands, UK/Europe, Africa, Australia, US and Japan and played the world's greatest music halls, including New York's Carnegie with Desperadoes and with the Laventille Hill band entertaining the 1984 Olympics teams in Los Angeles. He has also played for successive US presidential inauguration balls and his discography includes Mad Music, Jubilee and Heat. Now, it is time to hear the result of 43 years in the music business and global appreciation of what the industry salutes, as he presents the 12-track CD, From the Heart.
"Trinis are going to love this event," said MacDonald, "because of the various moods, stretching from the Panorama tunes to love songs and a couple of standards thrown in. And with these guys backing him, Robert will give one of his greatest shows, one coming directly from the heart."
Local supporting acts for the world premiere of From the Heart are Sprangalang (who will do a pan monologue), Lord Superior accompanying himself on guitar doing steelband-oriented calypsos and Mia Gormandy, national and Caribbean Junior Steelband Music Festival champion soloist.
Percussionist Tamba Gwinde will join the New York All Stars to further enhance the drive coming from MacDonald and Parker's drums.