Monty Alexander, Jamboree and Ivory and Steel (on one CD)
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Well mon, bein dat my wife from Trinidad, I recommend Denise Plummer, "Baron", "Sparrow", David Rudder, Soca music off the top of my head. Denise Plummer is my favorite. I don't know where you could buy this stuff in the US, The cd music shop in the Trinidad Piarco (Port of Spain) airport is the best place. I have a pretty good U.S. LP produced by Andy Narell (played with Spyro Gyro, Montreau) called "Our Boys Steel Orchestra" Pan Night and Day. a good introduction to pan music. Steel pan was invented in Trinidad.
Since we are talking about steel drum music, most people know it came from Trinidad, (or one of those islands) but the reason it was invented is interesting.
Slaves were not allowed to have musical instruments, but the urge to make music could not be held down. They, and the black folk after slavery was abolished, invented sticks of wood, hardened in fire, and shaped and sized so that when bounced on the road pavement, they made different musical notes. Bands were formed using these sticks, and on festival days they marched in parades. However, festivals being festivals, and rum being inexpensive, the festivities usually ended up with the sticks being pounded on heads, instead of the pavement. The authorities responded by banning the musical sticks.
A dismal silence descended on the island. But again, the urge to make music could not be stifled. By now empty 55 gal oil drums were commonplace. Some genius figured out that by heating and deforming the top of the oil drum it could be made to play a whole scale of notes. Amazing.
In addition to Ragaee and Steel Drum music,remember that the best living tenor player,Sonny Rollins is from the USVI and you hear the calypso influences in his music. May I suggest his Don't Stop the Carnival,Hold 'Em Joe,and St.Thomas for Caribbean music.
Some of the best jazz being played now is coming from Cuba. Perhaps when the politics evolve,these musicians and their recordings will receive more attention.