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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

Andy Narell

By Michael Stone
Published June 22, 2007

Heads Up

Before Andy Narell, steel pans were hardly standard jazz instrumentation. Of late, Narell has been expanding his horizons from the English- to the French-speaking Caribbean, which actually enjoys a long if little-known jazz history of its own. The tradition stretches from Alphonse et Son Orchestre Creole, Don Barreto et Son Orchestre, and Honore Coppett et Son Ensemble to contemporary Narell undertakings like the Caribbean Jazz Project and Sakesho, featuring knockout Martinique pianist Mario Canonge. Joining Narell on Tatoom is a meticulously assembled cast of players that includes guitarist Mike Stern, tenor saxophonist David Sánchez, conguero, timbalero and percussionist Luis Conte, and drummers Jean Philippe Fanfant and Mark Walker. Set against striking solos by each of these players, the big-band-steel sound is inspired by Narell’s work with the Parisian Calypsociation steelband school, several of whose members appear as guests on “Appreciation,” the 13-minute album-closing blowout.