Pan leg­end Jit Sa­ma­roo has died

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

Steel­pan Sa­ma­roo icon has Jit died. Sa­ma­roo passed away at his home in D’Abadie, Trinidad shortly be­fore noon on Thurs­day. He was 65.

Sa­ma­roo was the ar­ranger for the Rene­gades Steel Orchestra for over four decades, and cre­ated history when he won nine Panorama Com­pe­ti­tions be­tween 1982 and 1997.

Sa­ma­roo was also awarded the Cha­co­nia and Hum­ming­bird medals for his suc­cess with the Rene­gades. He leaves to mourn four chil­dren and three grand­chil­dren. His son, Am­rit Sa­ma­roo, is the leader of Su­per­novas.

Jit Sa­ma­roo was born in Lopinot Val­ley in east Trinidad, miles from the steel­band mi­lieu of Port of Spain. In Lopinot Vil­lage, the mu­sic came from his mother’s dho­lak drum and from parang groups around him. At age 10 he played

pan briefly with the tran­sient pan-round-the-neck group, Vil­lage Boys. He was just 11 when his mother died, leav­ing him and his sib­lings to look af­ter each other. Jit found the so­lu­tion in mu­sic.

With two sis­ters, two broth­ers and him­self, he started a fam­ily combo side, play­ing parang at first. At age 15, he had a life-chang­ing en­counter with Landig White, the mu­si­cal di­rec­tor of the Lever Broth­ers Can­boulay Steel­band in Tu­na­puna. He joined the band, quickly mas­ter­ing all the in­stru­ments while try­ing his hand at ar­rang­ing for the band. The fam­ily band got into the act when he took home some dis­carded pans and taught them to play. Af­ter its de­but at UWI in 1967, the Sa­ma­roo Kids Steel Orchestra be­came the per­fect show­case for Jit Sa­ma­roo’s tal­ents, prompt­ing the Pan world to take no­tice.

In 1971, Ber­trand “Butch” Kel­man, tuner for both the Sa­ma­roo Kids and Rene­gades Steel­band, in­tro­duced Jit Sa­ma­roo to Rene­gades, launch­ing one of the most fer­tile Pan part­ner­ships of all time. To­gether they won the na­tional Panorama com­pe­ti­tion a record nine times, in­clud­ing a his­toric hat-trick in 1995, 1996 and 1997. In 1984, they romped home with an as­tound­ing vic­tory mar­gin of 17.5 points.

Jit Sa­ma­roo was also a pro­lific com­poser whose work cap­tured the cross­cul­tural in­flu­ences of his life.

In 1997 and 1999, the fam­ily band, by then known as the Sa­ma­roo Jets, put on two full-length con­certs con­sist­ing solely of his work.

In 2007, Jit Sa­ma­roo re­tired from Rene­gades, hav­ing sealed his rep­u­ta­tion as one of the most suc­cess­ful, ac­cu­rate, clin­i­cal ar­rangers ever. On the ba­sis of his body of work, the Univer­sity of the West Indies awarded him an hon­orary doc­tor­ate in 2003. Ear­lier, in 1995, he was awarded the Cha­co­nia Medal (Sil­ver).

Jit Sa­ma­roo do­ing what he did best.

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