I am putting this out there: it is uncommon, in my personal experience, for the pan to be utilized as a lead instrument on a strictly straightahead set in the context of a Jazz Festival. All the more reason why I was taken aback – and pleasantly so I might add – by pannist Annise Hadeed’s offering at Jazz Artists on the Greens on Saturday, March 24.
One may query the wisdom of scheduling a guy like Annise as the final act, after Michele Henderson and her band of Trinidad and Tobago’s finest musicians led by Michael Low Chew Tung aka Ming. We could complain about the quality and dynamics of the sound of Annise’s pan, and that his choice of instrument from the family of steel drums was not quite suited to The Greens. No one would be wrong either in citing Annise for not engaging an audience already on a musical high from having died and gone to musical heaven, thanks to Michele. Frankly, I am not sure if any of the acts on the bill could have topped Michele. Truth be told, none could!
Given this context, I will take Annise Hadeed for what he was worth, a highly skilled practitioner of the pan who presented a remarkable set that included a couple of bona fide Jazz Standards, a Calypso-Jazz standard by a Trinidadian pianist of note and several originals by the leader. That was, however, a blessing and a curse for Annise.
Here is the problem Annise faced: For a pan soloist playing contrapuntal arrangements calling for heavy syncopation and, very critically, more than casual interplay between the instrumentalists, Annise adopted an unacceptable role of (what should I call it?) guest soloist. The guest soloist takes a few choruses here and there and then slinks to the side of the stage, letting the band play on.
This is important. As lead soloist, Annise does not have the luxury of stepping away from his instrument and laying out as much. His job is to bind himself to his instrument like, say, a pianist would, suggesting ideas and patterns to his cohort thus remaining in the fray, ever-ready to take or retake the spotlight to restate or extend the melody and add flavours in harmony. Annise does not do that, opting to play the head, expand the theme some and then side-step to give his band free reign. Whereas Clifford Charles and Llettesha Sylvester could get away with that because of the character of their sets and set lists, Annise could not for reasons now very obvious.
But all that is not to say that the band dynamics are not considerable. I mean, give drummer Richard Bailey his due, pinging the ride cymbals on “How High The Moon” (Morgan Lewis) and “Someday My Prince Will Come” (Frank Churchill), cracking the snare on Brother Valentino’s “Dis Place Nice” and Clive Zanda’s Calypso-Jazz standard “Fancy Sailor” while Douglas Redon keeps the beat and pulse like a buoy marker. Annise, for his part, plays the changes deftly on his originals, “Spur of the Moment” and “Square Up.” And guitarist Theron Shaw gets all abstract on the tail ender, “Cornertalk,” another Hadeed original.
As usual, the crowd began to trickle out of the WASA grounds as Annise Hadeed drew his set to a close and the curtains began to come down on Jazz Artists on the Greens. That was entirely expected, which is precisely why the producers put on Michele Henderson as the penultimate act.
In spite of the pros and cons I have expressed, there is no coming away believing that Annise was not an the act to help the fans warm down after the blistering show put on by Michele Henderson with Ming and Friends.
My feeling though is there is more to Annise playing live than what I saw between 09:00 and 10:00 pm on Saturday, March 24. Annise whet my appetite; and I would go on a limb to say that the rest of The Greens salivated as well.
- Carlton “Zanda” Alexander stirred the Coalpot at JAOTG, Trinidad, March 24 2012 (woodshedec.wordpress.com)
- Clifford Charles heats up Jazz Artists on the Greens 2012 (woodshedec.wordpress.com)