teaching / steel band music
We’re launching a steel band and Brasilian Percussion program in Laborie, Saint Lucia – January 4 – 15, 2017. Check it out at on our Facebook page.
I’m happy to say that Jason Koontz — Director of Percussion Studies at Eastern Kentucky University — is working with me again. He’ll be coordinating the program and teaching Brasilian percussion.
2016 has so far been another eventful year of teaching and performing steel band music. Birdsong premiered "Dis 1. 4. Raf" at 2016 Panorama in Trinidad, with 45 international players participating.
I went back to Laborie, Saint Lucia, which is home now, and worked with our two youth steel bands. Proud to say our senior group won Saint Lucia Panorama this year, and the juniors are a crack shot group of 7–12 year olds. Watch out for these kids.
I went on to work with steel bands at the University of Southern Mississippi, Angel Harps (Grenada), Catonsville H.S., Northern Illinois University, University of North Texas (premiere of ‘Abacoco’), Mott Community College SteelHeads (Flint MI), and Humboldt State University. In July we did the Ellie Mannette Festival of Steel in Morgantown, WV, where we had over 100 players.
I’m planning to record a new CD of steel band music this year featuring the compositions from 2014–16 Panoramas (We Kinda Music, Pan Magic, Dis 1. 4. Raf) as well as ‘Abacoco’ and another new piece.
Here’s Dalton Narine’s review of "Oui ma Chérie" in the Trinidad Guardian.
Review of ‘Alive’
"Only a genuinely spiritual connection to this pan idiom could have led Narell to where he's gone with the stuff I've heard here. It's a fascinating document with not only stunning musical content, but which, overall, lends a much needed clarity to where he is and why.” —Les Slater, steel band arranger (Highlanders) and director of the Trinidad and Tobago Folk Arts Institute
Reviews of ‘Tatoom’
“Andy Narell has made so many cool albums of jazzy steel pan (aka steel drum) music through the years he is practically a genre unto himself at this point. A musician of tremendous skill and consummate good taste, Narell takes the pans places they’ve never been before, so far beyond the limited palette of calypso it barely seems like the same instrument.” —MixOnline
“Narell’s playing throughout is skillful and imaginative…Narell has always written lovely melodies and this recording continues that tradition. The payoff for Narell’s meticulous recording logistics is that the nicely layered, warm sounds of this one-hour, thirteen-minute project captivate from start to finish. Bristling with elegance and excitement, there’s never a dull moment.” —Jazz & Blues Report
“Andy Narell is to the steel pan as Jimmy Smith was to the Hammond B3—a pioneer who took the instrument out of the basement, and put it into the jazz mainstream…Music this visceral is so gratifying that it is easy to overlook the incredible musicianship on this deceptively sophisticated disc. It can be enjoyed for multiple listenings before you realized the complexity and dexterity that is required for such intricate music. That is the paradox of great art: the difficult can look so easy.” —All About Jazz-LA
“…Tatoom is about Narell and his prowess behind a set of steel pans. This is a fascinating album—not your average modern jazz CD; well worth a listen.” —Jazz Improv
“With the addition of solos by Stern, Sanchez and Conte, Narell has again taken steelband music to a whole new place where Jazz and Afro-Caribbean music come together, and where the raw energy of the steelband has been captured by the best recording techniques.” —World Music Central
“…another forward-thinking set…a rousing finish to yet another top-notch effort.” —All Music Guide
“Andy Narell makes a important contribution and powerful statement on this CD. You won’t have to leave your house! Just turn on the sun lamp, sip a rum cooler, press play, and you’re right there on vacation in Trinidad. It's a first class trip all the way.”—JazzReview.com
“Given the difficulty of conceiving and executing the vision behind Tatoom, only Narell’s perfectionism could have made it a reality—creating the sound of an entire steel pan orchestra recording in a single studio, when in actuality Narell recorded in a single instrument at a time in multiple locations. The result is a gem.” —JazzReview.com
“Soloing spots by Stern and Sanchez add the jazz element, while percussionist Luis Conte generates a quasi, Afro-Cuban/Caribbean vista in support of Narell’s moveable wall-of-sound. Melodically attractive and awash with soaring, multi-layered passages -- the artist continues to envelop the jazz idiom with disparate nuances and compositionally stirring frameworks.” —eJazzNews.com
“So we have here a big band driven by the burning grooves of his compatriots, plus Narell nailing all the pan-playing on the most beautiful set of steel pans ever assembled, and in all his original music. Guitarist Stern, saxist Sanchez and Conte on congas shine in some great jazz solos, followed by the steel band doing its own solos.” —Audiophile Audition
Steel band Music Scores
Scores and parts available at www.ramajay.com:
- The Passage
- Sea of Stories
- Coffee Street
- Song for Mia
- The Long Way Back
- Dee Mwa Wee
- Izo’s Mood
- Baby Steps
- Blue Mazooka
- The Last Word (Oui ma Chérie) — 2013 Panorama
- One More Touch
- Visibly Absent
- We Kinda Music — new version for 2014 Panorama
- Pan Magic — 2015 Panorama
- Dis 1. 4. Raf — 2016 Panorama