T&T pan arranger, musician Eddie Quarless dies at 60

(Trinidad Express) Well-known pan arranger Eddie Quarless, 60, died yesterday in New York, USA where he had gone for medical treatment.

Members of the pan fraternity yesterday expressed sorrow at his passing.

Quarless worked with a number of steelbands including Witco Desperadoes, Massy All Stars and birdsong in Tunapuna. After the death of Clive Bradley in 2005, Quarless worked with Desperadoes. Apart from his legendary work with the steelbands, Quarless worked on several calypso albums including the late Garfield Blackman (Ras Shorty I) path-breaking Endless Vibrations. He was a saxophonist on numerous calypso albums.

In an interview yesterday his niece Roberta Quarless, daughter of birdsong arranger Richard Quarless, said: “Daddy left on August 12 because he knew he was ill. He was ailing from cancer and it took a turn for the worse.

“He was in the hospital for a few months. He was hospitalised since last year October. He had stopped talking and eating. You could never be prepared for death. But it was expected because he was ailing.” Quarless did not have a wife or children.

When contacted Pan Trinbago General Secretary Richard Forteau, who was on his way to Rio Claro’s centennial celebrations, said: “It will be a loss to the steelband movement because he would have worked with a number of steel orchestras. He is an integral part of the birdsong Academy music programme where he trained quite a number of young people into “sight-reading” (looking at the notes on the page and playing the right instrument).

“He was a great talent. He did work for a number of steel orchestras including Massy Trinidad All Stars and Desperadoes with Dr Finbar Fletcher.”

TUCO president Brother Resistance (Lutalo Masimba) said: “It is indeed a great loss to the world of music. He was not only a great musician, but he had a good heart. He was a great talent. He embraced the birdsong music programme for children. It was a great thing for someone to do in the music business. There was no money in it. He did it for the community. He embraced that programme and saw it to success. His contribution to music will be sorely missed.”

Musician/birdsong arranger Raf Robertson said: “I was inspired back in New York on his work ethic and practice. He was a fantastic arranger. I am saddened that people seem to know how good you are when you are dead. I was speaking to to Frankie McIntosh (another great musician) and we were sad. He was a great talent. I don’t think everybody knew how great a talent he was.”

Meanwhile funeral arrangements are yet to be announced. But Roberta Quarless said his funeral will take place in New York and a memorial service would be held for him here.

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