Who was/is Lovey's Original Trinidad String Band ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
FIRST RECORDINGS BY STRING BANDS AND CHANTWELLS
The first recordings of idiomatic Trinidad music were made in the U.S.A. in 1912 when, at the encouragement of American tourists who had recently visited the island, a twelve-man group led by the violinist George Baillie (Lovey) travelled to New York City for concert engagements. Both the Victor Talking Machine Company and the Columbia Graphophone Company recorded Lovey's Trinidad String Band. Their performances, all instrumentals, featured paseos, Spanish waltzes and even Argentinean tangos, Spanish Main dance rhythms popular in the island during this period.22
Two years later, at the end of July-beginning of August 1914, Lovey's band made further recordings for Columbia. This was just at the commencement of the First World War, for on August 1, Britain declared war on Germany. The War, however, had no immediate effect in the British West Indies. In the middle of the same month,the Victor Talking Machine Company (of Camden, New Jersey, U.S.A.) sent its team to the island "to make a complete repertoire of Trinidad's "local" music, including "'Calypsos,' 'Paseos,' Spanish Waltzes, Two Steps, Patois and East Indian songs by local performers." The arrival of the company's representatives was reported in both the Mirror and Port-of-Spain Gazette on August 28. The Mirror provided a few extra particulars: "We understand that Mr. Henry Julian, formerly of 'White Rose' has been practising assiduously for the above purpose and that several other bands and performers have been engaged."23
Excepting September 6, recording sessions were held every day between the 3rd and 16th of the month. Victor's principal artist was the pianist and well-known string band leader, Lionel Belasco. Henry Julian (Iron Duke/Julian White Rose) recorded under the sobriquet J. Resigna. The other participants were Jules Sims (whose calendas were sung in French Creole), S. M. Akberali and Gellum Hossein (of East Indian ancestry), and the Orquesta de Venezolana de Chargo (probably made up of Trinidad creoles, some of Venezuelan descent).
The initial batch of Victor releases from these sessions was distributed in time for the 1915 Carnival (Mirror, February 8) and, excepting "sacred Mohammedan chants" by S. M. Akberali, virtually all the performances are of secular music played or sung by black creoles. Complimenting the waltzes and paseos recorded by the Belasco Orchestra, the Mirror went on to observe "A novelty in creole music is afforded in calypsos after the, rendering of 'Julian White Rose,' the celebrated chantrel, whose voice has lost none of its sweetness." They noted also that "the Bamboo Band "Kalendar" is a new feature which will appeal to lovers of originality." 24 While the other repertoire reflected degrees of "respectability," the stick-fighting calendas sung by Jules Sims and chorus, accompanied by tamboo-bamboo, represented the defiant and sometimes violent extremity of black creole society that did not conform with colonial ideals of decorum.
Various Calypso 1938-1940 (10-CD)
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