Jit Samaroo and the Renegades

IMHO the greatest and most consistent arranger of Steel Pan music ever! – hard to explain, but it feels like losing a friend. Jit had an amazing and unique formulae for arranging, a true musical conversationalist.

Simple in his delicate complexity .. In 1998 I produced a Midi album entitled ‪#‎PanBrassOrama‬.

My personal musical tribute to JIT and celebrating the long and successful collaboration of Jit Samaroo and Lord Kitchener

That album got my foot in the door to have a conversation with Diz Heller and Horst Tubbesing at ARC Music Prod Int which led to two Steelasophical albums, still being sold world wide since 1999 (had always been my dream to share my music on the world stage and ARC made that happen) and even having one of those tracks used in a James Bond movie.

But at its root, has always been and will continue to be the inspiration of Jit the Man and Jit the Music … RIP

Jit Samaroo and the Renegades
Jit Samaroo and the Renegades gtr

Jit Samaroo and the Renegades

Jit Samaroo lives in the valleys

but has scaled the heights of Steelband music and competition to write his name into the history books as the most successful arranger in the 50-year history of the Panorama competition.

Jit Samaroo was born in Lopinot Valley in east Trinidad, miles from the steelband milieu of Port of Spain. In Lopinot Village, the music came from his mother’s dholak drum and from parang groups around him. At age 10 he played pan briefly with the transient pan-round-the-neck group, Village Boys. He was just 11 when his mother died, leaving him and his siblings to look after each other. Jit found the solution in music.

With two sisters, two brothers and himself, he started a family combo side, playing parang at first. At age 15, he had a life-changing encounter with Landig White, the musical director of the Lever Brothers Canboulay Steelband in Tunapuna.

He joined the band, quickly mastering all the instruments while trying his hand at arranging for the band.

The family band got into the act when he took home some discarded pans and taught them to play. After its debut at UWI in 1967, the Samaroo Kids Steel Orchestra became the perfect showcase for Jit Samaroo’s talents, prompting the Pan world to take notice.

In 1971, Bertrand “Butch” Kelman, tuner for both the Samaroo Kids and Renegades Steelband, introduced Jit Samaroo to Renegades, launching one of the most fertile Pan partnerships of all time.

Together they have won the national Panorama competition a record nine times, including a historic hattrick in 1995, 1996 and 1997. In 1984, they romped home with an astounding victory margin of 17.5 points.

Jit Samaroo has also been a prolific composer whose work captures the cross-cultural influences of his life. In 1997 and 1999, the family band, by then known as the Samaroo Jets, put on two full-length concerts consisting solely of his work. In 2007, Jit Samaroo retired from Renegades, having sealed his reputation as one of the most successful, accurate, clinical arrangers ever.

On the basis of his body of work, the University of the West Indies awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2003. Earlier, in 1995, he was awarded the Chaconia Medal (Silver).

The Champion Renegades arranger passed away at his D’Abadie home at 11.15 am Thursday 7th Jan 2016

Samaroo, 65, was ailing with Alzheimer’s disease.

Samaroo, holder of the Chaconia and Hummingbird medals, made history with BP Renegades steelband. Among his achievements was the widest recorded win by a steelband. In 1984, the then Amoco Renegades won Panorama by 17.5 points, the widest margin ever made in the finals, a record which stood until 2005.

In an immediate response to news of his passing, Renegades Captain Candice Andrews said the band is saddened by Samaroo’s death.

“He is an icon. He was our arranger for many years. We have nine Panorama wins with him and a hat trick of wins, we created a lot of history with him, so this is very disheartening to hear,” she said.

Andrews said the band will no doubt pay tribute to the late arranger over the Carnival season.

Jit Samaroo and the Renegades

jit samaroo steelasophical

Jit Samaroo and the Renegades from the tribute album PanBrassOrama