I found Andy Narellís brand of steel drum playing a entirely enchanting
listen on "Live In South Africa", a new two CD set. Having to sit
through a "Drums of Tobago" CD proved a bit much for me several years
ago, and since then I havenít made any effort to seek out music like
this. It found its way to me this time around, and I was pleasantly
surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
Narell plays some outstanding steel drums and he gets support from
some of South Africaís best musicians. Louis Mhlanga (guitar), Andile
Yenana (keyboards), Denny Lalouette (bass), Rob Watson (drums), and
Basi Mahlasela (percussion) assist Narell in making an unusual and
entertaining carnival of exceptional jazz music. Narell is a rare
breed in that he combines the steel drums with jazz in a very untraditional
manner. While most steel drum players stick to the traditional Caribbean-Island
sound, Narell has opted to combine traditional jazz with rudiments
of Latin and pop to come up with a decidedly tasteful world beat sound.
For me personally, I found the sounds very pleasing to my ear. The
appealing combination of genres so efficiently melded together is
one step ahead of any Caribbean sound that I have ever heard. This
is comparable to Jean Luc Ponty introducing his electric violin to
jazz, or Stanley Clarke making his bass a lead instrument in jazz-fusion.
Itís groundbreaking and exciting to hear such an earnest musical lexis.
The turn out for this concert was awe-inspiring, to say the least.
Narell himself could not believe that he was so popular. Narellís
scope is that of legendary proportions in South Africa. Some eighty
thousand people showed up for the concert to let Andy know just how
important he was to them.
These two CDs will give you great listening pleasure. The second CD
showcases individual musicians beautifully as Narell lets his music
become a multi-colored quilt that wraps its way around the band. The
result is all of them take flight and spread their musical wings,
keeping with the tradition of jazz and allowing improvisation at every
turn. The second disc is enhanced with live concert footage, before
and during. The QuickTime video is a bit choppy; performance is dependent
on your system capabilities I suppose. Video and Internet technology
still have a long way to go as far as I am concerned. The enhanced
CD also has a nice write up (liner notes) with album covers listing
other titles in Narellís catalog. Other artists from the label are
featured as well, giving the label and the other artists a little promo.
This two CD set will be a great addition to your jazz collection.
It offers a uniqueness normally unfound in jazz. Enhanced CDs are
still a rarity so its an additional bonus that provides information
and facts that are normally found on a website alone. Andy Narell
has created his own special niche in music thanks to his unique open
mindedness and his talent to recognize the abilities of all music.
The proof lies on these two little discs made of metal and plastic.
1. Play One For Keith
3. Out Of The Blue
4. Jenny's Room
5. Coffee Street
6. Hannibal's Revenge
1. Sugar Street
3. Little Secrets
4. Heads Or Tails