Rudy ”Twoleft” Smith is a legendary person in the world of steel pan and steelband. This album offers samples of his many musical faces: the pan man, the jazz musician, the arranger, the pan tuner, the tune smith… Rudy’s life covers most of the development of steel pan as a tuned musical instrument. The tuned steel pan was born in the mid-1940s. The first pans were made from biscuit tins and other metal containers and had only a few notes. These kind of steel pans were the first ones Rudy made and played as a very young boy. During the period 1945-55 the steel pan was gradually transformed into a set of instruments from treble to bass made from 55 gallon oil drums. This transformation involved an amazing and massive inventive development work involving experiments by many men in the yards of Trinidad. The orchestra made up of steel pans became known as steelband.
The original function of steelbands was to provide music for the masqueraders in the famous Trinidad carnival. The bands played the Trinidad calypso music. But very soon other kinds of music were played by the steelbands. The U.S. had both a naval base and an air base in Trinidad. The G.I. audience was a different one than the local audience. And they could pay. When the “Yankees” gradually left in the late 1950s the steelbands had to look for new markets. As a teenager Rudy started to travel with the band Merrymakers, taking steelband to Europe in the wake of the 1950s calypso craze.