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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby


And Calypsociation


Music For Steel Orchestra

Heads Up HUCD 3086


Andy Narell and Steel Orchestra with guest soloists:
Michael Brecker - tenor saxophone, Paquito D'Rivera - alto saxophone, Hugh Masekela - flugelhorn.
Recorded Paris and New York

1. The Passage
2. Song For Mia
3. The Long Way Back
4. Sea Of Stories
5. Mabouya
6. Oee Mwa Wee
7. Coffee Street

I must confess that generally I am not the world's greatest lover of steel bands. This stems from two factors - in the first place I was privileged to know and work with some of the finest pan players in The Caribbean whilst working on a cruise ship. In more recent years I have been subjected to the decidedly amateurish attempts of school children performing a type of music for which they have no real feeling or understanding. Having made this statement I must say that this disc has revived my appreciation of a very distinctive musical genre and I have found myself listening to this disc repeatedly with renewed enthusiasm and interest.
Andy Narell is one of the major contributors to the modern style of steel pan music and a jazz variation with a Caribbean influence. He is quite obviously a player, composer and arranger of outstanding ability and originality. The tracks on this disc are varied in their style and presentation, but never lose the essential West Indian overtones with the subtle rhythms inherent to this most individual kind of World Music. "Coffee Street" is perhaps my favourite ensemble track - one could almost wallow in the lush sound produced by the massed pans here.
The guest tracks are a real bonus as they provide welcome variation in terms of timbre and attack. Paquito D'Rivera is an obvious choice for this session as he is of Caribbean origin and accordingly finds it easy to fit into the group. Hugh Masakela has made a career of crossing different barriers and so it is no surprise that his selection is of a high standard. In many ways it is the appearance of Michael Brecker that could cause the most raised eyebrows. It is a measure of his superlative musicianship that makes his contribution so truly excellent- this must surely negate some of the comments from his detractors who would have us believe that he is a limited player in terms of his approach, relying mainly on his amazing technical facility. It is on recordings such as this that it is possible to understand just how much Brecker has learnt to control and utilise his prodigious talents in the last ten years or so.
This is a disc that is certainly worth listening to - like me you might be most pleasantly surprised.

Dick Stafford
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