The bee that was not to be
Friday, 22 June 2012 18:52

Thursday June 21st 2012 proved to be the longest day in many ways. I spent the better part of the morning discussing some cultural aspects of Pan in Education with His Excellency Wonkun Hwang, the Korean Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago and his Third Secretary, Youngsoo H. Kim. Thereafter I visited with artist emeritus Leroy Clarke for three hours, brainstorming ideas on preserving his Legacy.

Later that afternoon, I returned home to pay my own form of tribute to pianist, composer, musicologist, adjudicator and friend Orville Wright. He had passed to the Great Beyond on the day before, exactly nine years since the launch of the CD Reid, Wright and be Happy (RWABH) at the auditorium of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago on June 20, 2003. I felt that the best way to commemorate Orville’s life was to listen to the entire album (for the first time in nine years, believe it or not) while reflecting on him.

Since 2006 we had been discussing production of a sequel to RWABH and the bee in Orville’s bonnet was his arrangement of Olive Walke’s famous folk song Mangoes. I was privileged to hear him play the song at La Boucan Room, Trinidad Hilton for 100-odd international musicologists who had been attending the Joint Society for American Music / Centre for Black Music Research conference on May 27, 2001. Orville’s dream was to record the piece on nothing less than a Steinway or Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand.

Graphic artist Kenneth Scott’s concept for my title Second Primer was three mischievous schoolboys making music instead of paying attention in class. Orville played an improvised keyboard drawn on a desk,
‘Happy’s’ bass was four rubber bands stretched across a ruler and Ron played the double seconds with two pencils, holding them by the pointed ends so that they would appear to be rubber-tipped pan sticks.

But ‘Happy’ was of the opinion that the first album had not generated sufficient international sales to warrant production of a second. Added to this, his brother Noble who was trying to assist us in getting RWABH and other Sanch productions into the Universal catalogue, retired during our negotiations. Thereafter our dream of becoming part of the conglomerate was shattered as Universal was reluctant to subsume fledgling independent labels into its huge portfolio in light of the global economic crisis.

However we never gave up hope and Orville and I would discuss the project from time to time. When he called me a few months ago to inform me of his terminal illness, I instinctively knew that Second Primer would never get out of the starting blocks. My last communication with Orville was on March 20th last via email. I simply wrote “Just hang tight and everything will be all WRIGHT!”

While auditioning RWABH anew, I remembered Orville’s obsessive penchant for punctuality “To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late and to be late is unconscionable.” So Orville, you have crossed
the River Styx early leaving the rest of us no option but to be on time or late for the next big concert.

Simeon L. Sandiford
Managing Director