A N D Y N A R E L L | b i o g r a p h y
With his first solo album in 1979 Andy Narell took the steelpan out of the steelband and brought it into the jazz band, and with every recording and concert since, he has explored the possibilities and expanded the role of the pan in contemporary music. 2011 marks the release of Narell’s DVD package ‘ALIVE,’ which includes two full length documentaries about his work. ‘Andy and the Jumbies’ takes us from the panyards of Trinidad to the streets of New York, and follows his projects with Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra and the great calypsonian Relator, also featuring interviews with David Rudder, Ray Holman, Peter Minshall, and Kim Johnson. ‘Calypso Fever’ documents Andy’s collaboration with the WDR Big Band, merging the Andy Narell Steelband with the WDR to create a new 40 piece orchestra. Narell has made more than a dozen albums as leader, one as co-leader with Relator (University of Calypso), two as co-leader of the Caribbean Jazz Project (with Paquito D’Rivera and Dave Samuels), and two as co-leader of Sakésho (with Mario Canonge, Michel Alibo, and Jean Philippe Fanfant). Along the way he has worked with artists as diverse as Chucho Valdes, Bela Fleck, Marcus Miller, Maraca y Otro Vision, Willie Colon, Bebo Valdes, Flora Purim and Airto, Vince Mendoza, The WDR Big Band (Köln), The Metropole Orchestra (Holland), Andre Ceccarelli, Spyro Gyra, Dr. Billy Taylor, Nancy Wilson, Irakere, Tito Puente, Orquestra Aragon, David Rudder, Black Stalin, Andre Tanker,Angelique Kidjo, Etienne Mbappé, Mokhtar Samba, Karim Ziad, Ray Lema, Kora Jazz Trio, Kassav, Vusi Mahlasela, Philippe Lavil, Toto, Aretha Franklin, and the Kronos String Quartet. He has performed on movie scores by James Horner, Maurice Jarre, Elmer Bernstein, Hans Zimmer, Michel Colombier, and Thomas Newman, and his compositions have been featured in the film The Firm, and on tv shows like Designing Women and Going to Extremes, as well as commercials for Apple Computers, Sony, Porsche, and Southwest Bell. As a bandleader and soloist he has played hundreds of concerts and jazz festivals throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. In 1999 Andy became the first foreigner to compose for Trinidad’s Panorama steel band competition, guiding the 100 player Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra to the finals of both the 1999 and 2000 Panoramas. In 2007 he collaborated with Trinidad All Stars for a concert of his steelband music at the Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan and Jazz Festival. 2010 saw the realization of a project bringing together the Andy Narell Steelband with Michael Abene and the WDR Big Band, with special guest Relator, with a sold out concert at the Köln Philharmonic in Germany. He has been an artist in residence at North Texas St. Univ., Wichita St. Univ., Univ. of West Virginia, Univ. of Akron, Univ. of Illinois, Northern Illinois Univ., Miami Univ.(Ohio), Univ. of Southern Mississippi, Eastern Kentucky Univ, Northwestern Univ., Texas Tech Univ., Univ. of Delaware, Univ. of Missouri, Texas Christian Univ., Calypsociaition (Paris), and many other schools.
Apart from his own recordings, he has worked as producer on many albums, including Billy Childs(4), Ray Obiedo(3), Kit Walker(2), Our Boys Steel Orchestra(2), Steve Erquiaga, The Bobs, Keith Terry and Crosspulse, Alex DeGrassi, Irene Farrera, Xoli Nkosi, and Prince Kupi. For videos, news, and to buy cds and dvds, go to A N D Y N A R E L L | d i s c o g r a p h y
ALIVE” - five films (w/WDR Big Band, Trinidad All Stars, Relator) DVD 2009 Andy Narell & Relator - “University of Calypso”Tatoom - Music for Steel Orchestra” w/Mike Stern, David Sanchez, Luis Conte 2005 Sakésho - “We Want You to Say” w/Mario Canonge, Michel Alibo, Jean Philippe Fanfant 2004 “The Passage” - Music for Steel Orchestra w/Calypsociation, Michael Brecker, Paquito 2002 “SAKESHO” - w/ Mario Canonge, Michel Alibo, Jean Philippe Fanfant 2000 “Fire in the Engine Room” Caribbean Jazz Project - “Island Stories” w/Paquito D’Rivera and Dave Samuels “The Caribbean Jazz Project” w/Paquito D’Rivera and Dave Samuels A N D Y N A R E L L | q u o t e s
“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
“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… 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
“Narell has come to the home of pan to tell his own story, in music, as he would a jazz solo. He’s about to bend our ears, and the rules, whatever they are. Without gimmicks. Narell’s message is well-received. Powerful music simply administered.” Dalton Narine — Trinidad Guardian
“Narell hardly touches the pans when he plays; his arms and hands seem totally relaxed, letting the sticks fall onto the steel, not driving them. He knows exactly where the sweet spots on the notes lie, and can stroke the music out, no need to beat up the pans. His neck bends, his shoulders dance, as he draws music from the taut-stretched steel.” Mike Goodwin — Caribbean Beat
“In more ways than one, American steel pan virtuoso Andy Narell has truly infiltrated the sound of the pan into North America. Narell’s unlikely path as a young New York City-born steel pan virtuoso has finally brought him to a new starting point, a vision made real. What he now has within his control is a rare and, more importantly, a needed thing: the power to transmit a positive force through music.” Mike Fallerino — Jazziz Magazine
“The cumulative effect of Narell’s journey is an affecting showcase for the many moods of this still mysterious instrument.” JazzTimes Magazine
“Andy Narell’s simplicity on stage is in contrast to the sophistication of his music, which is educated, spiritual and heart-felt. The American steel pan player showed once again that he is a jazzman of substance. Edward Tsumele — The Sowetan(South Africa)
A N D Y N A R E L L | q u o t e s
“American composer and steel pan maestro Andy Narell has a glowing stage presence that draws the eye as strongly as his music flirts with the listener’s mind and senses. Being in a crowd of fervent Narell fans is an experience. when he steps behind the pans, and the first notes trill in the night air, they crane their necks, surge forward, moving with the music.” Jill de Villiers — The Citizen (South Africa)
“I laughed a little bit to myself when I came across that phrase “without compromising” because I don’t know if you have noticed but it is the one thing he never does with the Panorama tunes he does for Skiffle Bunch. What you get is Narell’s interpretation of his steelband experience so don’t listen here for the conventional trills and runs so expected by the Trinidadian audience. you have to respect not only the man’s honesty but the fact that what he brings to the game is a different way of listening and rendering even as he evokes the Trinidadian lineage.” Keith Smith — Trinidad Express


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