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Andy Narell

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Andy Narell
Andy Narell in 2009
Andy Narell in 2009
Background information
Born (1954-03-18) March 18, 1954 (age 70)
New York City, United States
GenresJazz, Latin jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger, music educator
Instrument(s)Steel pans
Years active1973–present
LabelsInner City, Hip Pocket, Windham Hill, Heads Up

Andy Narell (born March 18, 1954) is an American jazz steel pannist, composer and producer.[1]


Narell took up the steelpan at a young age in Queens, New York. His father, who was a social worker, had started a program of steelpan playing for at-risk youth at the Jewish philanthropic Education Alliance in Lower East Side Manhattan using two sets of pans made by Rupert Sterling, a native of Antigua. Beginning in 1962, Andy, his brother Jeff, and three others boys played on a third set of Sterling-made pans in the basement of the Narell house in the Whitestone neighborhood of Queens, calling themselves the Steel Bandits. The band was a novelty steelpan act that played concerts and appeared on television shows, including I've Got a Secret in 1963.

The band played Carnegie Hall and at the National Music Festival of Trinidad. Murray Narell invited Ellie Mannette in 1964 to expand steelpan activities in New York City and convinced him to come in 1967. Mannette taught the Narell boys more technique, and they played on improved pans tuned by Mannette.[2]

Narell studied music at the University of California, Berkeley and played piano with the University of California Jazz Ensembles under the direction of David W. Tucker. He graduated in 1973.

He started the record label Hip Pocket and released his first solo album, Hidden Treasures, in 1979. With an interest in Caribbean music, Latin jazz, and rhythm and blues, he joined the Caribbean Jazz Project in 1995 with Dave Samuels and Paquito D'Rivera.[3]

He has performed with Montreux, Sakésho, Calypsociation, and Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. He composed and arranged music for Trinidad's national steelband competition, Panorama.[4] Narell performed in South Africa in 1999 in front of a crowd of 80,000 people.[4]

Panorama involvement[edit]

In 1999 Narrell became the first foreigner to compose for Panorama steel band competition in Trinidad, guiding the 100-player Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra to the finals of both the 1999 and 2000 Panoramas.[5] After a 12 year hiatus, Narell returned to Panorama in 2013 and the subsequent three years to arrange for Birdsong. His arrangements have continued to introduce musical ideas that have not been done before in Panorama, such as the 6/8 time in a section of "We Kinda Music" in 2014.[6] Some critics have dismissed his music as jazz or avant-garde rather than Panorama.[7]


As leader[edit]

  • Hidden Treasure (Inner City, 1979)
  • Stickman (Hip Pocket, 1981)
  • Light in Your Eyes (Hip Pocket, 1983)
  • Slow Motion (Hip Pocket, 1985)
  • The Hammer (Windham Hill, 1987)
  • Little Secrets (Windham Hill, 1989)
  • Down the Road (Windham Hill, 1992)
  • The Long Time Band (Windham Hill, 1995)
  • Behind the Bridge (Heads Up, 1998)
  • Fire in the Engine Room (Heads Up, 2000)
  • Live in South Africa (Heads Up, 2001)
  • The Passage (Heads Up, 2004)
  • Tatoom (Heads Up, 2007)
  • University of Calypso (Heads Up, 2009)
  • Oui ma Chérie! (Andy Narell, 2014)
  • Dis 1. 4. Raf (Andy Narell, 2016)[1]
  • We Kinda Music (Andy Narell, 2017)[1]

With Caribbean Jazz Project

  • The Caribbean Jazz Project (Heads Up, 1995)
  • Island Stories (Heads Up, 1999)

With Sakésho

  • Sakésho (Heads Up, 2002)
  • We Want You to Say... (Heads Up, 2005)

As guest[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Andy Narell". www.pas.org. Retrieved 2020-01-09.
  2. ^ Smith, Angela (June 7, 2012). Steel Drums and Steelbands: A History. Scarecrow Press. pp. 104–05. ISBN 9780810883420.
  3. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Andy Narell". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Andy Narell at All About Jazz". Archived from the original on 15 March 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  5. ^ "About Andy Narell". Andy Narell. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  6. ^ Goslin, Ted (23 May 2016). "Birdsong: Beacon of Change". Pan magazine. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  7. ^ Goodwin, Michael (1999-05-01). "Andy Narrell: Caribbean Man". Caribbean Beat Magazine. Retrieved 2020-01-10.

External links[edit]