Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 26th 2015 Contents • Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 2015
Just throw your mind back to
sweet soca songs like Mer-
chant s Caribbean Connection,
Arrow s Hot, Hot, Hot, Baron s
Feeling It, Crazy s Nani Wine and
fair-haired pan tunes like Kitchen-
er s Pan In A Minor.
Can you recall how those songs
made you feel? Or how you boogied
down to the sweet melodies that
have all proven to stand the test of
Just ask any seasoned deejay and
they will tell you, these classics are
still dance floor hits.
Well one musical genius was
responsible for these hits. His name
is Leston Paul, a Curepe man with
a huge passion and an ear for good
As a young boy, Paul s parents
would often find their four-year-old
son dancing and tapping his feet to
music coming through the family s
radio or television set.
"Music was like a turn on," he
told the T&T Guardian while sitting
in his recording studio in Mt Lam-
Recognising his love for music,
his mother, Joan, and aunt Dorothy
(the latter now deceased), joined him
in the church choir where Paul
attempted to play any instrument
he could get his hands on.
Seeing this, he was sent to the
neighbourhood s then famed private
music teacher, Ethelyn Blake, where
he learned music in theory and prac-
tical. At 15 years old, after surround-
ing himself with all things music,
Paul made a definite decision that
he was going to be a musician. But
he explained, in those days a career
as a musician was often frowned
upon and recognised as a blind alley
But this notion did not faze Paul,
it was going to be music or nothing
When Paul completed secondary
school, Joan decided he should join
the T&T Police band. This would
kill two birds with one stone; her
son would get to play music and be
gainfully employed. The idea sound-
ed good but it still did not seem like
the best move for Paul.
"I recall saying to myself during
the interview, if everybody playing
music in here, then nobody would
know me," he said jokingly.
For the father of ten, it was a good
thing that the late Sgt Willard Paul
who led the T&T Police Band noticed
Paul s passion and offered him the
chance to play keyboards in his per-
sonal music band called Tropical
Ambassadors. There, a young Paul
learned the art of arranging.
"The band was a reading band.
You could not be in the band if you
did not know how to read music,"
Following his stint with Tropical
Ambassadors, Paul met with veteran
pan arranger Earl Rodney, who at
the time arranged for Solo Har-
monites Steel Orchestra.
It was on Rodney s advice that
Paul took up arranging as a main
"I wanted to be a composer but
when I told him that, I remember
quite vividly him staring at me as
though I was a mad man. He said
to me: " Well boy, if you want to
starve you could go ahead and be a
composer, but if you want to make
a lil money in this business, then
you should be an arranger. "
Needless to say, Paul took Rod-
ney s advice and is today regarded
as one of the most prolific arrangers,
composers and producers born on
In the 70s Paul is worked with
Charlie s Records in New York and
also enrolled at the Manhattan
School of Music to fine-tune his
skills in arranging.
He first struck gold as the main
producer and arranger of the late
Mighty Duke s Harpes of Gold album
which brought him instant fame and
a lot of business, along with sleepless
"I was now everybody s
arranger...high in demand. Those
days were very crazy," he recalled.
Composers were hooked on the
bass and horn lines in his produc-
tions which became his signature
sound and style.
In the 80s Paul began experi-
menting with technology while
working with calypsonian Arrow out
of a studio in New Jersey.
Another producer who did per-
cussion on the tracks Paul was work-
ing on introduced him to a little
Macintosh computer which he
explained would be the future of
how music would be produced.
After that conversation, Paul
invested in one and found it did
make his work as a producer a lot
"I remember when I was working
with Sparrow, he would have you
playing the same thing over and over
again for hours.
"The computer solved that prob-
lem. For instance, if you did three
choruses and verses, you just had
to do one and then copy it."
His next discovery would make
him the envy of other producers.
While in New York, he worked
with iconic American jazz, R&B,
soul, funk and disco group, Kool And
The Gang on a track called All Night
the producers one evening, he was
priviliged to visit the studio on the
upper level floor of the house.
The group would do productions
there and then take the work to
another studio called House of Music
where Paul eventually ended up
working for some time.
This gave Paul an idea. Why not
do the same thing back home?
He bought some equipment,
packed up his Mac, and moved back
No sooner he arrived, he com-
pleted an album called Keys To The
City, which consisted of his rendi-
tions of Kitchener s Pan in A Minor
and the late Whitney Houston s Sav-
ing All My Love.
The quality of the album was so
superb, many of his colleagues home
and abroad felt the recordings were
done on some high-tech digital sys-
But it was just Paul s Mac and his
talent that cooked up the good mate-
rial out of a small bedroom converted
into a studio.
"The tape machine still in the
front house," he said, pointing in its
that's Leston Paul
Continues on Page A36
Arranger/producer Leston Paul
operates his recording console
in his Mt Lambert studio.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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