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Biography

Michael "Toby" Tobas

On the Du Dup the original bass panMichael Tobas is a native of the Caribbean Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, twin islands situated at the southern tip of the archipelago, off the east coast off Venezuela.

Born in Laventille (East Dry River) Port of Spain, ”Toby” as he is affectionately called, was well situated to draw upon the rich percussive environment of Steel Pan music, invented in that country some sixty years previously.

Initially his music education was through the oral tradition and could also be classified as leaning via "street music". However it was evident, that he subsequently developed an affinity for all percussion instruments, indigenous to the pulsating folk rhythms of Trinidad & Tobago and other Caribbean islands.

Eventually at the age of 17 Toby set out on a career as a drummer/percussionist. Later he became an Berkleey Schoolinstructor through the encouragement of Barbadian born historian, Scofield Pilgrim.

Toby is credited with being one of the founding visionaries of Contemporary Kaiso (Calypso) Soca (Soul-Calypso) and Kaiso jazz rhythms. He has performed as a drummer in major folk and jazz festivals and concerts and has been one of the featured artistes on recordings, TV specials, jingles and hotel entertainment in both his native Trinidad and Tobago and the French and Spanish speaking Caribbean, as well as throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan.

While on a North America concert tour with the world renowned Despers Steel Orchestra in 1970, he was On Souble Tenor Pansrecommended to Harry Belafonte by his friend and fellow percussionist Errol“ crusher" Bennett. He auditioned and got the job and toured internationally with Mr. Belafonte for five years (1972-1977). Toby appeared on two recordings with Harry Belafonte: "Turn the World around" and "Belafonte live in Japan".

Toby also had the privilege of working with such renowned musicians as Jazz pianist/composer Randy Weston, saxophonist Warne Marsh, French guitarist Jean-Pierre Jumez, producer/percussionist Ralph McDonald, South African singer Letta Mbulu, Caribbean Noble Prize laureate Derek Walcott, Brazilian multi-instrumentalist "Suvica", and the late Marvin Gaye.

His interest in playing and teaching the Steel Drum, came as a result of his close working relationship with the Steel Pan Movement in Trinidad & Tobago as a drummer/instructor. This was further developed through his alliance with legendary steel pan innovator tuner and bandleader, the late RUDOLPH CHARLES Recording Studio. Further enhancement could also be credited to his association with the double tenor steel pan inventor BERTIE MARSHALL. In fact Toby’s first set of Bertie Marshall double tenors, was a gift presented to him some twenty years ago from Rudolph Charles and the Despers Steel Orchestra. A set of pans he still proudly owns today.

Toby and his family moved to Massachusetts in 1989 where he remains active as a performer and instructor. He is recognized in the Boston area, for his versatility as a drummer/percussionist and steel drum soloist, implementing sequenced accompaniment. This professional notoriety spans the Caribbean and Latin circuit as well.

PO Box 505674
Chelsea, MA 02150
(617) 889-1678
info@tobzmusic.com

Purpose Statement
Toby Tobas: Steel Drum Player, Steel Drum Band, or just Pan. Repertoire covers multiple musical styles such as Caribbean Folk, Calypso, Brazilian Bossa, Reggae, Kaiso”Calypso” Jazz, Afro Cuban & South American Favorites. Range also includes Latin Jazz, Easy Listening, and some pop variety as well. This unique sound is guaranteed to enhance your special event with state of the art production year round.

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