Posts Tagged ‘Calypso’

Patrick Jones Tells the History of Calypso in Trinidad

November 12, 2015

LP-CoverPatrick Jones at age 71 Image from Cook Records 5016

Text by Caldwell Taylor from http://www.spiceislandertalkshop.com

Patrick (“Chinee Patrick”) Jones (1876-1965), pyrotechnician, political gadfly, human rights campaigner, anti-colonialist, Carnival band-leader and raconteur extraordinaire, is an unsung master of calypso.

He was a leading exponent of calypso‘s oratorical style, a form that characteristically contained four eight-line stanzas sung in the minor key. The oratorical was essayistic, expository and florid and it is no wonder that it was favored by calypso’s “connoisseurs of words”, including “Executor”, “Atilla the Hun,“ Growling Tiger” and “Pretender”. Echoes of the oratorical can be heard today in “Chalkdust”, “Valentino”, “Black Wizard”,  “Scholar”, and a Barbadian-Canadian bard  named “Structure”.

“Chinee Patrick” emerged in the first decade  of the twentieth century and in his heyday he did battle against songsters like “Fijonel”, “Executor” ,and “Chieftain Douglas”. In a 1956 interview with American folklorist Emory Cook,  Chinee Patrick recounted a 1920s lyrical “war”  against Lord Executor, then regarded as the preeminent extemporizer (“extempo artist) in the land and the true successor to “the greatest extempo calypsonian of all time”, the “Senior Inventor” (Henry Forbes).

Patrick Alexander Jones was born in Port of Spain, to a Chinese shopkeeper father and mixed (Euro-African) mother. Patrick’s father was a scion of
the Chen family, whose Chinese ancestors were known for their radical nationalist politics. Indeed, Patrick’s father and his father’s brother were both sent to the West Indies as indentured laborers, exile being punishment for the brothers’ radical  politics.

The following audio excerpts are from Emory Cook’s 1956 interview of Patrick Jones, released on “Calypso Lore and Legend”

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Calypso at Midnight

April 7, 2012

from http://research.culturalequity.org

Learning that Town Hall (in NYC) could be rented cheaply after regular theater hours, Alan Lomax produced a late-night concert series called The Midnight Special, which was thematically organized as Blues At Midnight, Ballads At Midnight, etc., and sponsored by the People’s Songs Collective.  A live recording was made of “Calypso At Midnight,” a concert held at Town Hall on December 21, 1946. The calypso concert recordings, made at Lomax’s request and later found by chance in a closet by Bess Lomax Hawes, may be the only extant record of this series. “This concert is a fascinating document of an American presentation of Trinidadian calypso at a time when interest in the genre was spreading from New York City into the mainstream of popular music in the United States” (Donald R. Hill and John H. Cowley, Calypso At Midnight [Rounder 1840]).

This material (newly available online) from Alan Lomax’s independent archive (over 17,400 digital audio files), begun in 1946, which has been digitized and preserved by the Association for Cultural Equity, is distinct from the thousands of earlier recordings on acetate and aluminum discs he made from 1933 to 1942 under the auspices of the Library of Congress.  Attempts are being made, however, to digitize some of this rarer material, such as the Haitian recordings, and to make it available in the Sound Recordings catalog. Please check in periodically for updates.

LISTEN TO “CALYPSO AT MIDNIGHT” HERE.

Macbeth

The Sly Mongoose

October 2, 2011

For the Western MA Apocalypsonians:  Roaring Spider,  Mighty Rabbit, Growling Vole, and Biting Tick,  please check out Maharajah’s mighty calypso blog:  http://theslymongoose.blogspot.com/

and Yoyo’s incomparable Caribbean (and more) blog at http://listentoyourears.blogspot.com/search/label/calypso

Many treasures to be found there.

“Roosevelt in Trinidad,” by The Atilla: