Friday, May 09, 2008

Andy Narell's Beaten path to greatness

We hated to see Andy Narell leave the Bay Area for France. But let's face it. It wasn't happening for him on this side of the globe. The popularity that Andy had amassed in the 1980s when he first shot onto the jazz scene with his pan, had withered down to an occasional concert here and there. The novelty had worn off.

So Andy followed the path of many great American Jazz artists before him who felt less than appreciated in the home of Jazz. He crossed the Atlantic to France where Jazz and music innovation is perhaps more appreciated than anywhere else on the globe.
Well that move certainly revived his career. After a spell with Calypsociation, Andy's popularity seems to have exploded. Check Youtube, the man is all over the planet playing pan...T&T, Eastern Europe, Spain, Cuba, and just about every University with a pan program in the USA.

Which begs the question: Andy, is time to come home?

Phil flyin' below the radar

Am I the only Phil Hawkins music fan in the Bay Area? I’m surprised that not many Bay Area bands are playing his music. There’s a certain calculated quality to Phil’s music that brings the pan(s) alive. I notice the jump in energy in his tunes compared to anything played before.

Phil is getting ready to release a new CD with most of the tunes from his Pan Combo compilation. He also has a number of great band arrangements of these tunes available on his website

Check out The Big Idea and Suk-kyo’s Samba, two of my favorites.

Jammin’ at the Beach

Don’t try to reach any of the Bay Area’s Pan notables this weekend. They have all gone to the beach…Virginia Beach. It’s the 6th Annual PANorama Caribbean Music Fest.

Saturday features the competition, where bands ranging from elementary to college to community groups from all around the country compete for ratings and awards. Between 15 and 20 bands are expected to compete. On Sunday the top bands from the previous day’s competition perform on the 24th Street Stage.

Gone to the beach: Andy and Jeff Narell, Tom Miller, Phil Hawkins, Jim Munzenrider...

Liam’s Lightening Licks

Liam Teague was in the Bay Area last weekend and spread his stardust around leaving a lot of people with tingles from his performance. He showed how he earned the title “the Paganini of Pan”. The man is a masterful pannist, truly a leader among the next generation of pan practitioners.

Personally, I found some of his classical pieces a bit esoteric…I get a similar feeling listening to Othello Molineaux’s avant-garde jazz. But, his skill on the pan was so captivating, it didn’t matter what he played. Or, with whom he played.

Liam was backed by Jim Munzenrider’s very capable CSM Panhandlers. The group did an adequate job but not up to the standard of their past performances. Notably absent were iconic players like Anna Talamo who is nursing tendonitis in both hands. The band, and Liam, lost it temporarily when they teamed with the La Nueva school band, but it was all taken in stride.

Although there was no formal announcement, it is rumored that Saturday’s concert was the group’s last as it is presently constituted. Talk is, Munzenrider is thinking of ending the 20-year-old project and starting over with new members.