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Andy Narell, Tatoom

Andy Narell, Tatoom

Andy Narell | Tatoom [Contemporary Jazz/Revisited]

Back in 1985, I was introduced to a record titled “Slow Motion,” by jazz show host Fred Story on WBCY in Charlotte, NC. Ironically, at the time I was a little apprehensive with what I heard. But, after listening to a few more tracks featured on the show, I fell absolutely in love with this album by a guy named Andy Narell who played a funny sounding instrument combined with an extremely funky jazz vibe on of all labels Windham Hill Records.

Now, some twenty-eight years later, the longevity of his music still resonates in my spirit. Last year, a friend dropped me and e-mail singing praises over Narell’s latest record “Tatoom.” With no hesitation and respectful of his opinion, along with a few clicks of the mouse Andy’s new record would soon arrive at my doorstep.

What I love most about Andy Narell, as an artist is how he has remained “humble” and “true” to “persevering the authenticity of the steel pan” as an instrument united with his love, and admiration for the people and culture of Trinidad.

Now, considering the complexities of the concept Narell had in mind for this recording “Music for a Steel Orchestra.” This idea had to be an enormous undertaking, yet it could very well be limiting to the owners of his previous projects, because five out of six tunes come from the “Fire in the Engine Room” and “We Want You to Say” by his own band “Sasheko.” Nonetheless, to make this magical moment happen, Andy invited a few prime players to inspire the music on “Tatoom.” Cats like guitarist Mike Stern, were called to the session as he is featured on two tracks “”Baby Steps” and “Blue Mazooka.” Also, on hand saxophonist David Sanchez plays tenor on “Tabanca” along with percussionist Luis Conte to grace these wonderful compositions.

At the beginning of this review, I briefly described my first encounter with Andy’s “Slow Motion” as being a funky album. That said, honestly I can’t say that “Tatoom,” fits the same mold. However, Narell’s approach to “Tatoom” and others over the years has shifted more to the jazzy side compositionally [yet funk is still underneath the groove]. And of course, the Island flavor is an integral component here making this enjoyable music to savor with each encounter. By chance, if you have any reservations whatsoever about fusing jazz and Caribbean music together please don’t let it distract you.

Just in case you missed this jewel do join the fans of this music by stepping out of the box and take a spin with one of today’s most respected musicians Andy Narell into an atmosphere of fascinating music on Heads Up International.