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Reflection and rethinking Len “Boogsie” Sharpe and Phase II Pan Groove

Hanging out with music genius Len “Boogsie” Sharpe and friends at Panorama Semi-finals 2017

by David Boothman

Published with permission from David Boothman
Submitted to When Steel Talks by David Boothman

Boogsie’s genius has given to pan music worldwide a musical sophistication that has not yet! been realized and valued.

Phase II Pan Groove banner-logo
Phase II Pan Groove

Fifty years of compositions solely for pan with a pan theater and laboratory called “Phase II Pan Groove.” Phase II’s panyard has become an institution of learning for the best of pan players and musicians in the region and around the world. Since Phase II’s early beginnings in 1972, students and professional panists from the Caribbean, Japan, US, Europe and Africa, have engaged in this laboratory of pan music.

This panyard has been the playground for this savant-like genius exploring the science of boom acoustic of the pan and its musical phenomena and potential. This Mozart/Art Tatum of pan has explored the full tonal potential of the boom acoustic instrument and its music - his skill in ascertaining rhythms and tonal clusters with undulating melodies and harmonics in the most complexed asymmetry is beyond the conventional - and is uniquely his. As an arranger, Phase II has become Boogsie’s instrument with a palette of skilled panists all technically set and ready to lay the canvas for his music.

Len "Boogsie" Sharpe and David Boothman
l-r: Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, David Boothman and friends

In my humble and careful survey, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe has set the standard for pan music to the highest! level and should not be judged in any competition.

There are varying reasons for competition - the three main reasons: to promote growth, to raise a qualitative standard and to create incentive. Competition is good for novices and amateurs as they work towards becoming qualified. It is absurd and futile to have the qualified set standard reduced to re-entry to compete with the assessment that qualified it originally.- Gold is gold - gold CAN NOT be re-assessed as silver.

All is trivialized into the tribal and loses its creative and authentic value. Competition in the arts is a strange beast. Though the carnival is centered around competition by rote of custom for its euphoric buzz and excitement, the economic assessment borne from this remains stultified and myopic. All this set in the illusion of macro acceptance.

Phase II and Boogsie should be funded annually to perform their archived collection of original! works over the passed forty-five years at least. These compositions are of intrinsic historical! value and are memorabilia of past carnivals. Through this opportunity, these works can have! longevity and value - both aesthetically and economical.

Most world-class symphony orchestras and their repertoire are sustained by funding both by government, private and corporate sectors who care and have value for the goodness of the creative arts and its usefulness to society in giving it meaning. Here is another proposition for HADCO in partnership with Phase II and keeping it real. Why not mimic this system of value! here and create a wider plethora of artistic and economic possibilities. If need be, I can help with! curation and structure.

Related content:
Panorama 2017

David Boothman

David Boothman
Resonating Affinities:
Critical thinking and action
in Culture, Arts and Sciences.
(C) Caribbean Renaissance Foundation
Artist/composer/musician/educator David Boothman is founder of Caribbean Renaissance Foundation. He is also master artist in residence at the University of Trinidad and Tobago.

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