Steel Band / Tobago

Heart of Steel: Steelbands of Trinidad & Tobago

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To make a good recording of a steel band is a rather difficult undertaking. Only small groups can be recorded indoors, and the resonance of the pans tends to overwhelm the equipment. Large bands can be recorded outdoors, but excess noise tends to overwhelm. It's a difficult matter in either case. This album is further proof of it. It starts out with a few mid-sized groups performing classical works, always one of the highlights of the steel band tradition. Unfortunately, the sound quality is so dense and mixed up (not to mention the ambient noise) that the beauty of the pieces can't be heard by the listener in any decent way. The album then moves on to a number of original compositions that were apparently recorded outdoors (given the sudden lack of reverberation noise and the added quietness surrounding the whole thing) with an extremely cooperative audience. Birdsong, Pamberi, and the Catelli All Stars all provide top-notch works. For a better look at some of the carnival work, and steel band in general, one would probably be better suited looking up the Caribbean Carnival series on Delos (actually a classical label), but in a pinch this one might do as an introduction.

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