Steelin’ Jazz is a combo of jazz musicians led by Clyde ‘Lightning’ George, the world’s finest straight ahead jazz Steelpan player. Lightning was born in Trinidad around the same time that the Steelpan was evolving. At an early age he became fascinated with this new instrument. His mentor, teacher and pan inventor, Bertie Marshall, recognized his ability to learn music quickly and gave him his nickname ‘Lightning’.
Lightning is an acclaimed jazz player. He has brought his double tenor steelpans to jam in Amsterdam, Paris, Athens, Tobago, Montreal, Buffalo and many more cities worldwide. He is a master teacher, performer, composer, arranger and recording artist.
Lightning is a self taught musician who was mesmerized with jazz music when he heard it on the radio in Trinidad. He wanted to understand this music and perfect his execution of jazz on the steelpan. In 1978 he moved to Chicago, a focal point of American jazz. Initially he ran into skepticism when he walked into a jazz club with his double tenor pans and asked to join the jam. After hearing a few notes, the skepticism turned into astonishment from both the musicians and the audiences. His finely tuned musical knowledge and brilliant improvisational skills have been well recognized by jazz experts and critics alike:
“Calypso and Jazz are an unusual union but then George is a free bird” David Hoekstra, Chicago Sun Times
“Sparks of brilliance flew from the double tenor pan of jazz musician Clyde ‘Lightning’ George“ Michael Mondezie, Trinidad Guardian
“His band, Steelin’ jazz, is akin to the Modern Jazz Quartet of Steelpan” Terry Joseph, The Trinidad Express
“The only be bop Panman I know” George Bean, Chicago Herald
“Chicago’s own adopted son –Clyde ‘Lightning’ George is a true original. combining breezy calypso sound with the sophistication of jazz” Brad Walseth, Jazz Chicago
Lightning is one of a handful of pan players that uses 3-4 sticks while performing. This makes for richer harmonies and a fuller sound. Many compare his sound to that of a piano. He has performed with the finest of jazz musicians including Willie Pickens, George Bean, Jon Faddis, Clark Terry, Ira Sullivan, Ray Bailey and others. His versatility allows him to perform also with the world’s greatest calypso artists such as the Mighty Sparrow, Calypso Rose, King Crazy and the original Defosto Himself.
Currently Lightning is the artistic director of the Bertie Marshall Pan Institute in Diego Martin, Trinidad. He has returned to Trinidad to share his knowledge of straight ahead jazz with Trinidad musicians. He has created an educational and performance center where local and international artists can interact and learn from each other.