Better known as ‘Maubert the Pan Man’ Aubrey ‘Boss’ Bryan came from Guyana in 1964 and settled in the UK. During his first few months in the UK he worked for Phillips Radio/TV Ltd in Croydon where he experimented with new techniques for heat-treating pans.
In the mid 1970s he was invited with Sterling Betancourt OBE to tune some pans for the firm of A Major of Purley Way, which was intending to mass-produce the instruments. They soon realised there was a fault in the preparation of the material. As they could not get the desired tones, the venture never materialised.
In 1979, he toured Germany with the British Airways Groovers Steel Orchestra as player and tuner and was invited to produce a complete set of instruments for a high school in West Berlin. This was the first of many such commissions. Around the same time he featured in several short films about the making of pans, started a three year BSc in Social Sciences and invented the ‘Octopan’ - the prototype of which was exhibited in Hyde Park, London. Other inventions include the ‘Aubrapan’ which has achieved international acclaim from across Europe and the Caribbean.
He is a founder member and master tuner of the UK Pan Tuners Guild.
This individual started playing the steelpan in 1948 at the tender age of 10 with Benjamin Joseph and Muss Muss in their steelband, which was called Criss Cross from Victoria Village, South Trinidad. He then joined a band called Rogues Regiment who played on the road for carnival. After Rogues he joined the Cross Winds steelband. His musical quest and thirst for more knowledge saw him formed a small steelband in his own back yard called Maestros where his arranging skills took on a new phase of development. He then joined Sea Bees steelband who got their name from the film, The Fighting Sea Bees. After playing with Sea Bees his musical journey saw him immigrate to the UK in 1959 in search of further development.
On arrival in the UK, he got in contact with Theo Stevens, Clifford Adams, Lawrence ‘Stretch’ Noel and Kenneth White and they formed a small steelband and did a lot of gigging. He also played in the Tropicanas steel band with Winston Jones, Cyril Khamai and a few others. He gigged at many venues in and around London and established himself as an impresario playing at many events for the Royal family particularly events hosted by Sarah Ferguson. He completed many tours of Europe and the Middle East and his steelband was the resident steelband at the Savoy Hotel for many years.
Over the past fifty years he has made many television appearances on a wide range of programmes including ‘Top of the Pops’. His steelband played the background music to the film – ‘It’s in a Can’ in 1984 as a promotional film with Patricia Hayes and Wendy Craig promoting canned food.
He has played for the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace, Heads of States, live on BBC Test Cricket Matches, countless Awards Dinners, Henley Regatta and the Royal Naval College and Charity Balls in just about every five star hotel in London plus a host of company events, weddings and private parties. He is a leading authority on steel band music and a master steelpan manufacturer and tuner who supplies steel pans for schools and steelbands and shops in the UK, America and Europe. He is a founder member of the UK Pan Tuners Guild.
Toussaint began playing pan in 1968 and was tuning pans a year later at the age of 12. He was inspired, mentored and taught by Trinidad’s Theo Stevens and Hallam Ifill.
In the 1950s the cream of the Pan Players from Barbados immigrated to England and settled in Bath and formed the Barbados All-Stars. Born and raised in Bath, England Toussaint is a second generation product of the Barbados All-Stars. This group of friends and families still play pan in the band now known as Rainbow Steel Orchestra.
Over the years Toussaint has become and accomplished and highly sort after Steel Pan manufacture and tuner, achieving accreditations in Tuning, Advanced Tuning, Arranging and Tutoring from the Trinidad Ministry of Culture. He tunes for renowned steel Bands all over the world, including Ebony Steel Band London, Trinidad All Stars, Real Steel Plymouth, Phase Two, Metronomes, Contrast, Mangrove, Calypso Association France and various other Steel Bands around the world.
Toussaint is an established and respected steel pan tutor working with bands and players across the UK and Europe especially in the South West and South East of the country. He has taught and been involved with the development of bands that have gone on to make their mark on the UK and world stage, including bands such as Real Steel and Sounds of Steel.
As well as teaching, manufacturing and tuning Toussaint is a key member of Rainbow Steel Orchestra. He also participates in the London Notting Hill Carnival each summer where for the last few years he has played in Real Steel, where his son Leroy is the resident musical arranger.
Toussaint returns to his ancestral home Barbados at least once a year and also visits the Trinidad carnival where he picks up the latest carnival arrangements of the current year’s Soca and Calypso hits, which soon find there way into the UK steelband community through him and his associates. He also uses these trips as networking opportunities building and developing his relationships with other steel pan experts around the world.
He is a founder member of the UK Steelpan Tuners Guild and the current Vice Chair. He continues to work with all members of the guild and pan experts and players around the world and he has established strong working relationships with Tony Slater and long established composer and player Earl Rodney from Trinidad.
Toussaint is truly passionate about all aspects of Steel Pan and has mad it his life to promote the art form.
Creator of the acoustic Voom Box, made of plywood and is somewhat like a speaker box since it amplifies the sound of the pan, in this case the seven-bass.
This diminutive pan innovator to date has already invented – the Collapsible Folding Stand that is now used by many bands around the world. Then there is the Sonia Sonic Bass, in addition to making modifications to the Diagonal Tuning Tenor Pan.
Little did the tuner know that when he migrated to the UK as a teenager from his native Grenada that the steelpan would have enabled him to be a leading steelband icon thanks to Trinidadian Roy Jacobs who invited him to join the Trinidad All Stars from Birmingham.
One thing then led to another that saw him moving from Tropical Harmony Steelband led by Victor Phillip. His next move was to Melody Makers under the stewardship of Ezekiel 'Biggs' Yearwood. His big transition, however, materialized when he became a facilitator at the Coventry training workshop where he was involved in pan fabricating – sinking, grooving, cutting and burning - with Victor Phillips as head supervisor
The former limbo dancer then grasped the opportunity to move to the city of London in 1982 to train youngsters at the carnival industrial project. One year later he had completed the prototype for the “collapsible folding stand” which he had initially conceptualized while in Coventry.
This innovator continued his quest for new inventions when he created a ‘collapsible stage’ as a result of an incident with Ebony Steelband at the 2000 World Steelband Music Festival at the Jean Pierre Complex in Trinidad. The stage is so strong that it could accommodate a motor vehicle for display.
Dudley also invented three versions of the collapsible steelpan stands. The one original version was made from tubular steel, a second version also being made from tubular steel by specifically for players in wheel chairs and the final version is made of aluminium and collapses to half its size with the prototype being made for Billy Ocean.
Dudley also created the Pyramid pan with Essa Tavela, Grafton Yearwood and Egger Werner which they invented in Switzerland and was used at the the 2000 World Steelband Festival by Panch Steel Orchestra. He has also created the illuminated bass sticks and also the telescopic pan sticks.
Currently working with his friend, Walter Chimant, from Switzerland to amplify the steelpan by using magnetic pick ups and also moving coil pickups with each pickup being placed under every note on the steelpan.
As a tuner, his workmanship has been felt in numerous steelbands and soloists around the world. He is a founder member of the UK Steelpan Tuners Guild.
The Late Chrysostom Gerald Forsyth OBE - May 1932 - November 2017
After leaving Modern Secondary School, he formed the Green Eyes Steelband, named after a nightclub in close proximity to their pan yard. Some of the players included Corbeau-Jack Riley, Natsy and Bambi Contant, Boy Blue Mansing and Clifford Gill. Later, he turned his attention to pan making and tuning, studying under the illustrious Ellie Mannette at the University of Pan - more commonly known as 'Invaders Pan Yard'. As his tuning skills developed, he travelled to other Caribbean islands to practice his trade and in 1962 he migrated to Britain where he started gigging with Boots Davidson, Zigilee Constantine, Eamann Thorpe and Desmond Bowen. In 1964, he formed the Invaders Combo, which played regularly at the legendary Albany Pub and by 1966 he was in America teaching the pan.
In education, under his guidance and tuition, the first school steel band was established at Islington Green School in London in 1969. This paved the way for a number of Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) schools to start up steel pan classes and by 1975 there were over 50 schools with steel bands. In 1978 he was appointed Steelband Organiser for Schools with an office at the headquarters of the Greater London Council. By 1990 he had over 160 schools with steel pan as part of their curriculum. In 2001, he produced his book about the lifetime journey of a pan legend in the steelband movement. He was awarded and BAS Hall of Fame honour by the British Association of Steelbands in 2005. As well as tuning pans for a number of steelbands, he continues to teach the intricacies of playing pan and welcomes every opportunity to pass on his knowledge to future generations so that the art can evolve with time. He is a founder member of the UK Pan Tuners Guild.
In 1956, at the age of seventeen, this UK steelband icon and his brother Roy founded their own orchestra called Modernaires steelband. His brother, Roy aka Boo played in the famous Trinidad All Stars whom he greatly admired. In 1958, Roy migrated to the UK. Frank followed in 1959 and brought some pans with him and in February 1960, Roy, Frank and some friends took to the streets of Brixton to celebrate Carnival. Their actions were noted as the first time pan was played in Brixton Road and the initiation of the Brixton Carnival. In the late sixties he played the sax with the Tony Morgan Road Show and the bass guitar with Rudy Jones and the Ambassadors, they toured Germany and played at most of the clubs in the West End .
He started teaching pan music in 1974 at the Kingsdale Secondary school which is now one of the many South London schools who have benefited from his musical talents. In conjunction with Audrey Dennett, the head of music for ILEA at the time, he was able to form the first ILEA School Steel Orchestra. In the mean time, his seven talented children developed their musical skills on a variety of brass and reed instruments and the family band; The Royaltys enjoyed great success. In 1974, they formed London All Stars and he has directed the band through many successes, including the UK’s first National Steel band Festival Championship held at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1985.
He has made untold contributions to the advancement of the Steel band Movement in the UK. He co-founded the Steel Bands Association of Great Britain (SAGB) and the London Brotherhood of Steel (LBS) and held office in both organisations with unselfish distinction. Along with Randolph Baptiste (deceased) they formed the Pan Players Academy. In 1981, he founded the Brixton Arts Culture and Carnival Committee giving the wider community the opportunity to learn musical instruments and share in the Carnival heritage. He also conducted the first combinations of steel and voice and contemporary dance with Alma Henry staged in Britain. He was approached by Claire Holder to form the UK National Steel Orchestra with the assistance of Randolph 'Bull Bull' Baptiste which performed in Buckingham Palace for the Queen’ Elizabeth 11 Golden Jubilee in 2002. He is a founder member of the UK Steelpan Tuners Guild.
This individual was born into a steel pan environment that was central to his family's economic base. In the early seventies, his father "Biggs" was a pan tuner in England - at a time when there were very few individuals in that profession. The young lad, however, was not interested in the art of pan making, and harvested his talents in the "sound system", the music field that attracted youths - and was very popular among black British young men. After numerous invitations from his father to join the industry, he became involved in pan making around the mid 1980’s on the sinking and construction side learning his skills from Biggs, and later from Dudley Dickson, another top pan tuner. Having engaged with the construction aspect of the pan making art, he became an apprentice tuner in 1989, to Dudley and Biggs respectively.
In 1988, He and his dad formed the Pantonic Steel Band where he started playing. In the early years of his tuning career, he only tuned for his band, Pantonic, but as his skills developed, he went on to making pans for other individuals and tuning for other bands. In 1994, he stopped playing the double second, to concentrate on his tuning. As the demand for quality pans grew, he found his skills were more and more in demand, not only in London but UK wide.
It was around this time that he decided to branch off on his own, manufacturing the full range of pan instruments. He continued to rely on his father as a mentor, in areas he felt his dad’s strengths predominated. In 1991, he joined forces with Dudley and the "Happy Drum" company was formed. It was then that he began working in Switzerland with Martin Grah - one of Switzerland's steelband leaders. Since then, he supplies and blend pans for the Swiss market. Over the years, he has been tuner to many of the top bands in London. Happy Drum are also agents for Peterson Tuners in Illinois, USA. He is a founder member of the UK Steelpan Tuners Guild.
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