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Live In South Africa

  out of 4 Music Review: Live In South Africa

Artist: Andy Narell
Genre: Jazz
Release Date: April 2001

Review by Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
No rating supplied

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.

Disc: 1
1. Play One For Keith
2. Kalinda
3. Out Of The Blue
4. Jenny's Room
5. Coffee Street
6. Hannibal's Revenge

Disc: 2
1. Sugar Street
2. Chakalaka
3. Little Secrets
4. Heads Or Tails
5. Mpule
6. Oxamu



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