Clyde "Lightening" George: Lightening Strikes the Heartland
Clyde "Lightening" George is a pan player and percussionist, a steel drum virtuoso from Trinidad who has been working in Chicago for over 20 years. His nickname comes from his formative years practicing in Trinidad, to describe his chops—or, ability to get around the pan quickly.
The steel drum is one of the newest instruments to emerge in our lifetime. Developed in post-war Trinidad, the US Navy left too many 50-gallon steel drums that begged to be cut in half, hammered, tuned and fired into melodic instruments that blend well in every musical situation.
Because it comes from the Caribbean the pan was quickly applied to folk music and calypso. Now, jazz purists are challenged by virtuosos like George who are intent on extending the pan repertoire to include jazz, pop tunes and even classical melodies.
Joined here by keyboards Brian O'Hern and drummer Aras Biskis, George gives us a diverse program. There are fine takes throughout that include Ellington's Perdido and Take the A Train; be bop standards Scrapple From the Apple, Blue Monk and A Night In Tunisia; and, of course, renditions of Caribbean favorites like Lord Kitchener's Mystery Band and Marley's hit I Shot the Sheriff. Their swinging rendition of Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise will dispel any myths about the ability of the pan to swing.
George and the band play with great style urgency, you might even imagine that this band is larger than a trio. Stretch your musical boundaries and have a great time, this is much more here than beach and cruise music.-MV
Available via www.steelinjazz.com.