Pan Nation - Steel Drum Jazz

Pan Nation - Steel Drum Jazz

Thu, July 20, 2017

7:00 pm

$10.00 - $15.00

Sold Out

Pan Nation represents a fresh, contemporary approach to the steel drum music. The ensemble explores traditional and modern steel drum jazz repertoire in-depth with the active involvement of it's members as composers and soloists. The result of this experience is a unique, new sound for the steel drum ensemble that combines the traditional sounds of the Caribbean steel drum band with jazz, pop and other world rhythms.

Tonight’s performance is a featured event of the Pan Ramajay Summer Steel Drum Workshop and Festival that is held annually in July at University of Denver, The Newman Center of Performing Arts. Tonight’s concert will feature guests from this year’s festival, Alan Lightner, and Jim Munzenrider of the acclaimed steel drum group, Pan Ramajay, Don Prorak of Colorado’s own Pan Jumbies, Rick Henson, director of Rocky Mountain Steel Bands, and Denver, alto saxophonist, Art Bouton.

Pan Nation - Steel Drum Jazz
Pan Nation - Steel Drum Jazz
Tom Miller (tenor pan, drum set)

Tom Miller’s vast experience as a performing percussionist, steel drummer, composer, arranger and educator has made him one of the most respected and sought after soloists and clinicians today. Tom has performed worldwide with his own popular group Pan Ramajay, with other notable pan artists, Andy Narell, Ray Holman, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, Othello Molineaux, and the Our Boys Steel Orchestra. Tom was twice a featured guest performer at Trinidad and Tobago’s annual “Pan and Jazz Festival”. Other collaborations have produced work with Calypso vocal artist, David Rudder; jazz drummer, Peter Erskine; composer, Vince Mendoza; bassist Michael Manring; woodwind virtuoso, Paul McCandless; Germany’s famed WDR Big Band and as a member of the Windham Hill recording group, Montreux. He has added his unique style of percussive touch to numerous recordings covering a variety of musical styles with artists such as Grammy award winners, Allison Krause and the late John Denver, and Venezuelan songstress, Maria Marquez. Tom’s playing has also been featured on film scores for the movies, Commando, Nina Takes a Lover, and The Mystic Masseur, as well as ads for Minute Maid, Sony, the SIMs computer games and many others.

Tom is equally as comfortable in the studio as a producer having produced and mixed several critically acclaimed steel band recordings for his own group, Pan Ramajay, as well as master pannist, Ray Holman, The Chabot Panhandlers Steel Orchestra, the Miami University Steel Band and the Lamont Steel Drum Ensemble. He is the founder of the chamber steel drum ensemble, Pan Nation, a steel drum octet performing original compositions composed by the group’s members and recently releasing their debut EP recording, “Altered Perception.”

Tom’s composing talents have earned him grants from the prestigious Meet the Composer Foundation on five occasions, fostering the creation, performance and education of audiences through his compositions featuring steel drums and percussion. This dedication to musical education has won Tom many invitations as an artist in residence at numerous universities and colleges throughout the U.S. He currently is the director of Steel Drum Ensembles at the University of Denver, Lamont School of Music as well as the founder and director of the Pan Ramajay Summer Steel Drum Festival, in Denver, CO, occurring annually in July. He has also served on the faculty of the JAZZ School in Berkeley, CA, the Mannette Steel Drum Workshop in Morgantown, WV, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, the Lamont Summer Academy, and the University of Delaware Summer Steel Drum Workshop.

Tom is the founder and president of one of the foremost steel drum music publishing companies, Pan Ramajay Productions (, which features Tom’s own compositions and recordings as well as those of other prominent steel drum composers worldwide.

Michelle Brake (cello pan)

Michelle Brake received her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Lamont School of Music in 2011. She is currently working as Musical Director on her second musical for Denver Christian High School which is performing Shrek the Musical this Spring. Michelle is also very much in demand as a piano accompanist for local high school choirs and churches as well as for Rhythm and Grace, a Dance for Parkinson Disease class, taught by a principal dancer from the Colorado Ballet. She has performed with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra and Colorado Symphony Guild and has traveled to South Africa and Uruguay to perform with mission teams in 2012 and 2013. She will be certified to teach the Alexander Technique in June. She is also privileged to have recently contributed her first tune, “Cora’s Song,” to the Pan Nation repertoire.

Andrew Neldon (double tenor pan)

Andrew’s knowledge and skill with steel drums, a prominent aspect of his musical background and career, has brought him in performance together with noteworthy pannists, Ellie Mannette, Andy Narell, Jeff Narell, Robert Greenidge, Ray Holman, as well as collegiate groups from Eastern Kentucky University, West Virginia University, and the Miami University Steel Bands. A native of Morgantown, WV, where he earned both Bachelor and Master degrees in Music Education from West Virginia University, Andrew’s studies focused on the pedagogy and performance of classical and ethnic percussion instruments including taiko drums, steel drums, and hand drums. Andrew directed the WVU Steel Band and WVU Percussion Ensemble as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. He is an active performer, maintains a flourishing private teaching studio and is involved with teaching at the Denver Music Institute.

Don Prorak (double second pan)

Don Prorak began playing pan around 1987, after years of performing as a percussionist, vibist, and drummer. A few years later he met Ray Holman, who invited him to come to Trinidad and perform in Panorama ’91 with Carib Tokyo. After that trip Don formed Pan Jumbies and decided to focus on pan as his primary instrument. Pan Jumbies has now been making music for over two decades, and has performed in concerts and festivals, as well as a wide variety of corporate and private events. The band has also appeared as guest artist with the Denver Brass, Colorado Children’s Chorale, Colorado Wind Ensemble, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Pops Orchestra, 1st Universalist Church Choir, Denver Turnverein Chorus, and others, featuring Don’s arrangements and compositions. Don also performs in the duo “Toco Bay” with marimbist Jim Theobald.

In Trinidad Don has performed with Carib Tokyo, Humming Birds Pan Groove, Phase II Pan Groove, and TCL Skiffle Bunch in Panorama and the Steelband Music Festival. He started a high school steelband program at Brighton Heritage Academy, a public alternative school in Brighton, Colorado, and 2 months later founded the Colorado State University Steelband. Recently he began a steelband for teachers and staff, called Steel.Drum.27J. He holds degrees in music education and percussion performance from the University of Illinois and DePaul University.

Shilo Stroman (electric bass)

Armed with his dads record collection, a toy drumset played with chopsticks and an empty basement, Shilo Stroman’s musical journey began. A versatile performer, Mr. Stroman’s credits range from playing triangle in symphony orchestras, electric bass in salsa bands, drums in funk bands and flower pots in chamber groups. Shilo's contemporary jazz quartet, Square Peg, released their first recording, “Searching," in 2013. In 2006, he commissioned and performed the world premiere of ,“Sticks and Stones,” variations for drumset and wind ensemble by Jim Bonney. As an educator, Shilo is adjunct instructor of Percussion and Jazz at Colorado State University and very active in the marching arts where he continually works with ensembles from around the country. Shilo's love of travel and sharing his passion for music education has led him to presenting clinics, adjudicating festivals and judging competitions throughout the United States. Shilo is a Yamaha Performing Artist and a proud endorser of Promark, Evans, and Sabian products.

Alan Mark Lightner, (steel pans, percussion)

Alan Mark Lightner generates excitement through his energetic, charismatic, and highly skilled approach to playing and teaching music. His unique style, vast knowledge, and kind hearted spirit have wooed audiences and classrooms around the world. Lightner also pursued private instruction from masters in his fields of interest. Those fields were Afro-Carribean music including the art of steel pans and the vast world of Afro-Cuban rhythms and instruments, Afro-Brazilian percussion, West African music, European classical percussion and the Afro-American art form of jazz.

Alan Lightner has been equally successful as a performer. He has performed and/or recorded with Will Smith, Mos De, David Rudder, “Boogsie” Sharpe, De La Soul, Ghostface, Rakim, Roy Ayers, Andy Narrell, the Braxton Brothers, Richie Cole and Lenny Williams to name a few. He has appeared in and contributed to the soundtracks of numbers films and television shows such as Ally McBeal, the Drew Carey show, Eli Stone and the Desperate Housewives. Lightner has been a featured percussionist on the recent, "Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience as well as a guest on ‘The Osgood File’, Charles Osgood’s nationally syndicated radio news program, to discuss Lightner’s success with teaching inner-city students. Lightner’s compositions can be heard on various commercial jingles and numerous steel band c.d.’s including his own group Pan Ramajay’s three releases. Los Angeles based band, Pan Dulce features Lightner penned tunes exclusively on there self titled release. Alan Lightner now juggles most of his time between composing, arranging and traveling internationally as a performer and clinician.

Jim Munzenrider

Jim is the founder of the nationally acclaimed "Panhandlers" Steel Drum Band based in the San Francisco Bay area. The group has 5 CD's to their credit and have shared the stage numerous times backing up pan luminaries like Ray Holman, Robert Greenidge, Boogsie Sharpe, Andy Narell, Liam Teague, David Rudder and many others. As an original member of the group "Pan Ramajay" Jim has performed and taught workshops at colleges, universities and high schools throughout the US in addition to recording 3 CD's with the group.

Wil Swindler (saxophone)

Wil Swindler, saxophonist, composer and winner of the 2008 Gil Evans Fellowship, is based near Denver, CO. You can hear him both as a composer and performer with numerous groups including his Elevenet, GoorRattle, 9th+Lincoln, the Colorado Jazz Orchestra, Manny Lopez's Latin Jazz Project, Red Sylvester, the Legacy Jazz Orchestra, and vocalist Barron Steffen. Wil has received commissions from West Point's Jazz Knights, The USAF Falconaires, Denver University, Colorado State University, and has composed original music for Steve Wilson and Steve Weist among others. As a performer, he has played with Toshiko Akiyoshi, Cuong Vu, John Fedchock, Steve Wilson, Bill Warfield, Greg Gisbert, and many others.

In the Fall of 2009, Mr. Swindler joined the music faculty at Colorado State University as Associate Director of Jazz Studies where he teaches jazz theory, jazz composition/arranging, improvisation and directs Jazz Ensemble II. Wil has served as an Adjunct Saxophone Teacher at Denver University, composition teacher for the Colorado Conservatory of the Jazz Arts, faculty at the Yellowstone Jazz Camp as well as the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Camp, and maintains an active private studio of saxophone and composition students. Mr. Swindler holds a B.M. from the University of North Texas in Jazz Studies graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Ray Holman (steel drums)

Composer, arranger and steel drum performer from Trinidad, Ray Holman is perhaps the most talented proponent of his art form internationally.

He has arranged and recorded with steel bands and artists in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Japan and Europe, including televised performances with the German National Orchestra which showcased his compositions. He composed the highly acclaimed score for Black Orpheus, staged by Crossroads Theatre Company in New Jersey in 1991, and has been a featured performer in film, television and at venues such as Madison Square Garden, the Super Bowl and the St. Lucia Jazz Festival.

A University of the West Indies graduate and former high school teacher, he has conducted workshops at West Virginia University and was a Commissioned Composer in the California State University Summer Arts Program. He regularly attends the bi-annual steelband tuning and arranging workshop at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California and has done presentations at meetings of the Percussive Arts Society. During 1998-2000 he was a distinguished Visiting Artist in the Ethnomusicology Program at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Ray has won many prestigious musical awards, including the Hummingbird Silver Medal of Merit from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and a Pan Legend Award from the New York Folk Arts Institute and the U.S. Congress. He was recognized for his musical contribution by the Republic Pan Fiesta 2003, A Tribute to Ray Holman.

IN 1957, Ray began playing pan at 13 with Invaders Steelband, led by legendary pan tuner Ellie Mannette. Later, he became its arranger, doing classical interpretations such as "Dream of Olwen" and "Etude in A b."

In 1963, Holman and others revived the band Starlift, and his arrangements made it the then most popular band in Trinidad. He had instant success with "I Feel Pretty" from the musical "West Side Story."

At 20, he became the youngest player to win the solo Ping Pong (an early version of the tenor pan)competition in the 1964 Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival. He began experimenting with the jazz idiom as a soloist, while touring and performing on television with the Queen’s Royal College Jazz Group led by his teacher Scofield Pilgrim.

Ray emerged as the most musically progressive steelband arranger, and his innovative arrangements won two Panorama championships for Starlift in 1969, with Lord Kitchener’s “The Bull” and in 1970 with the Mighty Sparrow’s "Queen of The Bands". In 1972, he became the first arranger to compose and play his own music for the National Steelband Panorama competition. Appropriately titled “Pan On the Move,” the composition won the National Preliminaries and is now a musical landmark. Since then, he has arranged for many top steelbands, including Pandemonium, Carib Tokyo, Exodus, Phase II Pan Groove, Hummingbirds Pan Groove.

His first CD, A Tribute to Ray Holman, featured eight of his Panorama compositions. With his jazz sensibility and unique improvisational style, Ray continues to delight audiences worldwide with the timeless quality of his music.

Pan Nation’s eclectic steel drum repertoire has been well received at concert performances throughout the Western United States as well as master classes, outreach and innovative community programs. The group’s EP recording entitled, "Altered Perception,” is on the Ramajay Records label.

Tonight’s performance is a featured event of the Pan Ramajay Summer Steel Drum Workshop and Festival that is held annually in July at University of Denver, The Newman Center of Performing Arts. Steel drum players come together from all around the US for on week to participate in workshops, classes and concerts of the steel drum. Tonight’s concert will feature guests from this year’s festival, Alan Lightner, and Jim Munzenrider of the acclaimed steel drum group, Pan Ramajay, Don Prorak of Colorado’s own Pan Jumbies, Rick Henson, director of Rocky Mountain Steel Bands, and Denver, alto saxophonist, Wil Swindler.
Venue Information:
Dazzle @ Baur's
1512 Curtis St.
Denver, CO, 80202