The man who brought a new dimension to the Panorama competition
in 1972 when he arranged his own composition –“ Pan
on the Move” for Starlift, thus setting a trail which other
bands including Desperadoes have since followed – Halman says
that people must not be afraid of change but should embrace available
technology in the production of pan.
“We need to make use of modern technology as some foreign-based
tuners do and not be reluctant to explore new techniques and accept
“I know for a fact the tuners in the US have superior quality
drums and the people involved in building pans are college and university
graduates. They take the task much more seriously and take great
pride in what they do.”
Unfortunately, local tuners have complained to him that their apprentices
are not as astute and are not taking their time with the drums,
as some see it as a quick hustle.
“It will spell doom for us when the present crop of tunes
pass on. Young tuners need to be trained badly,” Holman said.
“Some system of apprenticeship must be put in place where
tuners can pass on their skills because the US is concentrating
His old friend Ellie Mannette, with whom he reunited in the US
in 1998 after 30 years, has 16 apprentices who study and work with
him and are all university graduates, he said.
Women, he insists, should get involved in this aspect of the industry.
“This is not only for men, many women in the US are doing
it. It should not be confined to men. Mannette’s main builder
is a woman,” Holman said.
It is his desire to see more pan-men who are capable of reading
“I think that more attention must be paid to musical literacy,
although nothing can replace the ear,” he said.
“Pannists deserve more respect in their country and maybe
they need to be more professional in their approach and see themselves
He is an example of what he speaks for apart from calypso and soca
his music comprises ballards, operas, and blends of Brazilian and
jazz rhythms. He has written a variety of pan songs for bands including
Tokyo, Exodus, Phase II Pan Groove and Starlift for over 28 years
and his compositions are performed by orchestras in the US.
There is a growing demand for his music too.
“One of my publishers recently called and said that there
was a big order for my compositions in Singapore and Denmark,”
Pan Trinbago, Holman pointed out, should be part of the revolution
to uplift the pan. It is his view that the body should be run by
professionals and that its role be more clearly defined.
Audiences across Europe and the US have been entertained by his
performances. Operas and orchestras have performed his music, including
a stage version of Black Orpheus. Caribbean productions in Japan
have benefited under his musical directorship as well.
Of his many international performances the most memorable, he says,
was in 1997 when he did a live television performance in Cologne,
Germany, with David Rudder, Andy Narrel and Vince Mendoza.
“We had the backing of West German National Orchestra and
to have my music played by the leading jazz musician was an experience
that I will never forget,” Holman said. “We rehearsed
for ten days for that concert.”
He has given himself full time to his music and will leave in April
for concerts in Kansas and California. After which he will begin
work on his first CD with his band in Seattle, which consists of
musicians from the School of Music of the University of Washington.