If you've ever experienced Caribbean seas on a sunny day, you know that sometimes a cold undercurrent can startle you even as you are sweltering in the heat. So this music has an overriding warmth, but a cool, refreshing feeling that mellows the spirit and invokes introspection… and sometimes, lost memories.
Shaw's music is decidedly Caribbean in the way it is completely at home while blending with ancestral cultures. He infuses familiar rhythms with unexpected beats and melodies that tell the story of a musician who has walked through the grand bazaar of world music, absorbing flavours to bring them home to add to a bubbling pot.

Theron Michael Shaw is a musician of many parts. He is a guitarist, an arranger and a composer, but most of his formal association with music has been cerebral – he studied music therapy at Howard University.
After years of playing the guitar at various gigs around the region, Shaw decided to do Jazz Studies at Howard, but after a discussion with a trumpeter, Ravi Best, he changed his major. Best was describing his courses for music therapy and they seemed so much more intriguing to Shaw that he immediately switched and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy Cum Laude in 1995.
Perhaps his introspective nature drew him to study the way music can affect moods, perhaps the courses made him more attuned to the relationship between man and melody, in any case, when he returned home to Trinidad, he did a Post Graduate Diploma in Education at the University of the West Indies, and now works with young minds though the medium of music.
Shaw’s relationship with music was preceded by his love for art. He painted – acrylics, watercolours, pastels – and even exhibited with the Trinidad Art Society (renamed the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago in 2004). Music crept upon him like a Christmas present one day while he was still at primary school. His mother bought him a four-stringed plastic guitar, and his cousin tuned it and started playing. It set off firecrackers in the Belmont boy’s imagination.
The music took such a hold of him that it became the centre. All through St James Secondary he was known for his guitar playing. They didn’t have much by way of formal instruction or equipment – it was basically a teacher, a piano and a class – but a group of them (Anthony Greer, Russell Durity, Ryan Romany) got together often and their impromptu sessions would have the entire school thronging to hear “Shaw and dem playing."
Shaw is mainly self-taught, applying his methodical nature diligently to learning music formally. He bought music books and, devising his own formula for reading key signatures; he practised, he wrote and passed musical exams, and he sought help from elders like Frankie Francis, and then later the community of musicians at university.
When he returned to Trinidad, he felt his career should have music at its core. He had already done some work with the Autistic Society, and was distressed by its lack of support and resources. He eventually began teaching music at San Juan Secondary Comprehensive School, and now teaches also at COSTAAT.
Somehow between gigs, work and raising a family, all the dreams he’d harboured about producing his own work seemed distant – something for later on.
In 2000, the death of his younger sister, Lisa, from cancer was a stark reminder of the temporal nature of life and he began to work in earnest on producing his debut collection. In 2003, he recorded The Sojourn, and it was well rated by critics.
The success of the CD, as well as the experience he had acquired from performing around the world with internationally acclaimed acts helped to focus his mind on his next project.
He had performed with Lord Pretender and toured England with The Roaring Lion. He’d played all around the Caribbean with the Kaiso Jazz Workshop, with Michael Tobas. His recording credits included French vocalist Philippe Lavil and pannist Liam Teague. He’d accompanied the Mighty Sparrow, Cuban pianist Ernán López-Nussa and the multi-faceted Bobby Carcasses, Jeff Haynes, Tony Mason, Arturo Tappin, David Rudder, Andy Narell, Ella Andall, Andre Tanker, Len Boogsie Sharpe, Mavis John, The Noble Douglas Dance Company and the Trinidad Theatre Workshop.
Shaw is a well known feature of the jazz circuit; he has been featured at the 2002 edition of Pan Ramajay, the 2003 edition of Caribbean Jazz Waves in New York and Washington D.C., the We Beat Festival 2004, Jazz on the Hill 2004, and Jazz on the Greens 2005.
With experience and exposure, Shaw feels that he has arrived at a more solid place with his music, but is wary of seeming to be either dated or losing touch with current times.
On a friend’s suggestion, he is participating in a five-month long, IDB-funded course offered by the Laventille Technology and Continuing Education Centre. Although he already knows most of what is being taught, he sees it as a way to formalise some of his knowledge in the modules being offered on the science of sound, microphone techniques, studio, digital and audio recording, and sound mixing.
He considers himself a work in progress, that is, someone always open to receiving new ideas. “There is something that you can get from everything, even the negative," he says. “It depends on how you interpret it."
Shaw has an optimistic outlook on life, and feels that every experience is charged with the capacity to transform. His musical journey has endured many obstacles and shifts, but he has persevered, because he believes every travail enlarges him.
He adopted the philosophy that all that mattered was making the most of the moment, and that led him to begin work a couple of years ago on this second CD, Right Here, Right Now, which is the first release from the newly formed Foreday Mornin Entertainment Company.
Foreday Mornin wants to establish itself as a home for much of the region’s musical and lyrical masterpieces that have either faded from consciousness or have never reached the markets they deserve. Whether new or old, the idea is to expose works in a way that would reflect and reinforce the full depth of their meaning, past and present. Foreday wants to provide a home for these artists in a range of genres to issue their works fully loaded with all their historical, musical and lyrical intensity.

Vanesia Baksh