All I want for Christmas is...
Wednesday, 09 November 2011 17:32

American-born virtuoso Andy Narell is a very reserved professional who prefers to express himself by merrily making mixed melodious melodies on the Steelpan. There is a distinct similarity between Andy and the great former West Indian batsman Brian Charles Lara who always spoke with a cricket bat throughout his sixteen year illustrious test career.

As an adopted son of Trinidad and Tobago, Narell has used this country’s National Musical Instrument to successfully carve a vital niche for its indigenous rhythms and for himself, worldwide. Andy deserves the international recognition and acclaim that he has so deservedly earned because of inexorable dedication to his craft.

How many other musicians have kept a  ‘long-time tenor pan’ in their archives and are brave enough to use it to make commercial recordings? Narell has etched a name for himself in mainstream entertainment by performing in North America, the Caribbean, South Africa and Europe. He continues to play alongside the greats including our own lord Relator, David Rudder and Ray Holman.

Andy Narell released four albums on the (now defunct) Windham Hill Jazz Label, three others on his own Hip Pocket Records, one for Inner City Records and ten for Heads Up, now a division of Universal Music. These include the recent masterpiece University of Calypso featuring veteran calypsonian Willard ‘Lord Relator’ Harris; Sanch has proudly distributed close to 3500 copies to date.

Narell’s Heads Up CD entitled The Passage was recorded with the French steelband Calypsociation. Interestingly, another of this band’s releases entitled Made It, climaxes with a verbatim performance of the late Clive Bradley’s classic Ah Goin’ An’ Party Tonight. This was originally the legendary Desperadoes Steel Orchestra’s Panorama rendition for 1982. Narell’s portfolio is further embellished with an awesome new dual DVD entitled Andy Narell Alive now available through Sanch.

One interesting facet of this release is that it emphatically disavows the common belief that top steelband ensembles possess their own signature sound. I have always maintained that ensembles, whether of conventional symphonic or steel instruments, can only replicate the signature sound of their arranger or conductor.

This exciting DVD affords an opportunity for diehard supporters of Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra to be blind tested. I am certain that the majority of these golden eared aficionados would not recognise their band performing in a setting in which Leon ‘Smooth’ Edwards was not the arranger!


Simeon L Sandiford

Managing Director