|Jit’s dreams live on in pan |
By COREY CONNELLY Sunday, January 10 2016
The funeral service for Dr Jit Sukha Samaroo yesterday was a simple, unpretentious, yet heartfelt affair : a telling reflection of the arranger’s too-short life .
Family, friends and members of the steelband movement crammed the Aramalaya Presbyterian Church, Cochrane Street, Tunapuna, to celebrate the life of a man hailed as a musical genius and icon .
Samaroo’s far-reaching influence was evident in the first few rows of mourners, where steelbandsmen rubbed shoulders with members of government, diplomats and giants in academia, business and culture .
President Anthony Carmona headed a slew of dignitaries, who included Minister of Social Development and Family Services, Cherry-Ann Crichlow- Cockburn; US Embassy’s public relations officer, Stephen Weeks; University of the West Indies (UWI) principal, Professor Clement Sankat; Senior Counsel Martin Daly; veteran pan man Ray Holman; and sitarist Mungal Patasar .
Samaroo, 65, lost his almost decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease at his Mausica, D’Abadie, home, around midday on Thursday .
He had led the east Port-of- Spain band, BP Renegades, to nine National Panorama titles and was bestowed with the Humming Bird Medal of Merit (Silver) in 1987 as well as the Chaconia Medal (Silver) in 1995 and an honorary doctorate from UWI in 2003 for his contribution to culture and the steelband movement .
Throughout his stellar career, Samaroo was also associated with Arima Angel Harps, Deltones and Sangre Grande Cordettes .
The late arranger is survived by his wife, Balmatie, and four children, one of whom, Amrit, has followed in his father’s footsteps .
As the coffin bearing Samaroo’s remains was being wheeled to the front of the church, young arranger Duvonne Stewart rendered a haunting piece on the pan to the tune of “Jesus Joy of Man’s Desiring.” Minutes later, Samaroo’s comrade in the steelband fraternity, fellow arranger Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, gave a frenzied performance of “Memories by the Mighty Sparrow.” The piece elicited applause from mourners .
Samaroo’s humility and dedication to his family and the steelband was the common theme which ran through the tributes at his farewell service .
Close friend Hollick Rajkumar described Samaroo as a noble and gifted gentleman, “one of the most honourable men who have walked this land.” Rajkumar, who said he had known Samaroo since the 1980s, also read aloud several brief tributes from others close to the late panman. BP Renegades’ manager Michael Marcano, hailed Samaroo as the band’s godfather .
“Renegades is Jit and Jit is Renegades,” Marcano said .
Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz recalled that many Renegades’ members were sceptical of Samaroo’s abilities when he was first introduced to the band in the early 1970s .
He joked that Renegades, in those days, “had a lot of villains” and Samaroo, “had to have protection” when carrying out training sessions .
“I praise Renegades for holding on to him,” Diaz said .
Diaz said Samaroo’s greatest accomplishment was his arrangement of “Miss Supporter,” for the Sangre Grande Cordettes, some years ago .
He urged listeners to a get a copy of the Samaroo Jets CD, Portrait of Trinidad .
Samaroo’s children recalled their father’s love for western movies, international news, cricket the Mighty Sparrow (Slinger Francisco) and Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts) .
They said their father, who was never interested in driving a car, represented a “delicate balance between a dreamer and practical man.” Prominent Presbyterian Minister Reverend Daniel Teelucksingh, in a poetic tribute, regarded Samaroo as a “rare, celebrated, musical colossus.” “Only once in a lifetime, we will meet someone like this.... Play on Maestro,” he said .
Reverend Harold Sitahal delivered the sermon. Samaroo was laid to rest at the Surrey Village Public Cemetery, Lopinot Road .