TT Music Library
Virtual Music Archive of Trinidad & Tobago

Brass Instruments

How Trumpet, Trombone, and Saxophone will Blow your Mind

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Besides percussive, like elements and rattles, trombones, horns, and trumpets were the basic instruments, as well as a few string instruments, like the cello was used. Brass bands build the background music for calypsonians in calypso tents and during live performances. Often one band was chosen for each calypso tent. 

Brass bands became popular by the 1950s, often with strictly instrumental music releases. Mano Marcellin, Norman Tex Williams, and Gemini Brass are to mention here. As well as the Dutchy Brothers, which released the following record in 1960. Hear the importance of the wind instruments in this example:
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Etienne Charles
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Here is another example by the Troubadours. The band was backing calypsonian Mighty Sparrow for a while of his career.

Tobagonian calypsonian King Wellington, a name since the 1950s, will describe in his song the vibrant Carnival feeling out from his own point of view. The song was released in 1973 on a vinyl record.

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Roy Cape
Roy Cape (1970s)

And if you have a little more time, here is a full concert of Mighty Sparrow for you. For nearly 50 minutes, the international calypso superstar, with origin in Grenada, has been living a long time his life in Trinidad and Tobago, providing the sounds for generations and a lot of inspiration for uprising artists. The brass band is backing the singer in an incredible mixing from song to song. Enjoy the live experience, as it is very seldom with vibrant interaction of band and artist, again. 

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Record - Trinidad Pan and Brass
Fusion of Pan & Brass



By the late 1970s, the sound of the band has been transformed by adding electronic instruments (bass guitar and rhythm guitar) and a saxophone, as well as by rhythmic patterns and melodic riffs associated with soca. Charlie's Roots have been backing a lot of musicians, including David Rudder and Tambu. David Rudder was essential for creating the Caribbean Brass Fest in 1986.

This instrumental example shows how the bassline is more in the foreground than the other instruments, as a new style in music. Maybe a few of you might recognize this song from somewhere ...
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There is still so much that needs to be discussed here in detail, especially the influence of jazz, funk, and soul on brass bands. But with the progress of the virtual archive, you will be able to read more about it.

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In present days, instrumentalists are thriving, as band, or as solo artists. Ricardo Seales is a great example. Born in Tobago, the musician is able to play different brass instruments. Enjoy the upcoming cover of Freetown Collectives „Kassandra“, released in 2021.

In Concert


Soca music is already great, but even greater to hear it with a band, performed on a big stage with a band, and in a colorful live show. Even though many musicians nowadays perform with the original track playing (like a playback in the background). A phenomenon, that I still try to learn to understand. So let’s say, once the stage performance is done right, soca can sound fabulous in a live experience. I have no issues with the inclusion of DJ sounds, but often you would love to hear the real thing, and not watch the artist turning into an MC animating his own song, while it’s playing in the background. The time when at least so-called TV tracks have been used (instrumental tracks with background singer vocals only), seems to be quite rare.

Machel Monday - by caribbean pot

Still, there are great exceptions. I am sharing a virtual concert with you by Kes the Band in a very unusual place, including an amazing introduction to the drive and power of music. The band consists of three brothers and is releasing music since 2005. They fuse soca with a little bit of reggae and a little bit of rock. In their constellation, there are no wind instruments again, but I believe, if they would include some, it would be fire! Enjoy!

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As much as I hope you enjoyed the concert and introduction, as much I hope you go ahead learning about Trinidad and Tobago’s vibrant music. 

Latest Update: 11/10/22
Compiled by:
DJ Mika Raguaa - Professional DJ & Multimedia Designer
DJ & Researcher


Note: This article is a "work in progress". With every visit, more content will be added. Get in touch, if you have something to share.

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Jocelyne Guibault (2007): Governing Sound – The cultural politics of Trinidad’s Carnival Music
University of Chicago, Ian Randle Publishers

John Mendes (2003): Coté ci Coté La – Trinidad & Tobago Dictionary,  Medianet Publishing

Gerard Besson (2011): Calypso, Calypso Music

Ronald C. Emrit: Calypso History
http:// Calypso in Trinidad – Carnival and Musical Traditions (offline nowadays)

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