SANDRA L BLOOD
Founded in circa mid-1940s as Destination Tokyo, the Laventille steelband, Tokyo Steel Orchestra (Tokyo) located at 2A Plaisance Road, John John, Laventille, introduces itself, and announces its tune of choice and arranger for T&T’s 2024 National Panorama Small Band competition.
Tokyo says “music aficionados can expect a delectable treat!”
With the extremely short and tight season, preparations are a-pace for this globally-acknowledged band – one of the oldest surviving, worldwide – but what is perhaps even more significant, said the release, is the artillery selected to take the band impressively through the competition.
Musical arranger and conductor is the legendary and esteemed Carlton “Zanda” Alexander of the famed large-band Desperadoes (Despers). Tokyo noted, that under his baton since 2016, Despers became the first band to achieve the most national Panorama champion titles – 12 – this, last year, but their icing on the cake is, their musical coordinator and drill master, Rikky Andre Robley, also worked at the helm of Despers with Zanda; a partnership that led them to several Panorama successes.
In speaking with captain Oswald “Farmer” Goddard, it was revealed that the overarching decision to work with Zanda was as a result of his belief in the power of good music to continue to enhance the community, and by extension, alter the negative stereotypes that have stymied the growth of the wider community of John John.
Farmer also shared that while other arrangers were approached and expressed some reservations about working in the community, Zanda’s decision was a reflection of his heart, in that he sought inspiration from his chosen way of life, which echoes similar sentiments to those of Tokyo Steel Orchestra. These include the improvement of human rights and dignity for all persons, as well as, the fostering of discipline and tolerance, through consistency and shared expectations.
Tokyo’s 2024 rendition is a local classic titled, "Sing In She Party", sung by calypsonian Scrunter (Irwin Reyes Johnson), that was previously played by another celebrated arranger and musician, the late Clive Bradley for Pandemonium Steel Orchestra in 1987.
One of Tokyo’s earliest captains was the late great pan pioneer Winston “Spree” Simon. They gained its first sponsorship in 1963, Carib Brewery; won the test piece in the 1968 Music Festival with a tune looked upon as the “stiffest test for pan men,” Sunday Morning by Benjamin Britten, and also won that year’s Bomb 4 Competition with Finlandia. They were Bomb Competition runner-up in 1970 and were the second-best beating band on the road on both days of that Carnival.
3In 1971 for Panorama, they were finalists with Mama Say by Blakie, but inched up to second place in ’72 with Mrs. Harriman and in ’73 with My Connie. They performed at the St. Catherine Grape and Wine Festival in Canada; performed between 1979-’84 in Washington, NY, and at the Los Angeles Olympics; in ’81, performed at the Los Angeles Folk Festival; and ‘83: toured Caracas, Venezuela, all having transpired before they had a fixed place of abode.
In ‘89, the first phase of Tokyo’s Pan Theatre in John John was completed, which then led them to adopting a policy stance of self-reliance as a guiding watch word.
Tokyo said they are excited, and are raring to take their brand/reputation and community to higher heights and are asking their supporters to make their destination, Tokyo, again – “Come home to the rhythm of steel. Feel it. Love it.”
Tokyo will be judged last for preliminaries on December 11, 2023, at their panyard.
Other management personnel working Tokyo onto the Panorama podium as Small Band winner are general manager Trevor Byam, tuner Desmond “Mappo” Ricardson, and Rickie Rouff, Hercules Francis, and Dexter Harris.
Tokyo: email@example.com, or 292.1464; 744.3225.