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Andy Narell

Their name Sakesho (pronounced sah kay show) is the French Creole saying for "its gonna be hot." And on January 22 and 23rd this Caribbean-influenced jazz band would be creating more than a sizzle when they perform at the Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles, California.

This would be the band’s first performance in Los Angeles and they promise to give audience more than a treat within their two-hour nightly performances.

Sakesho is pan virtuoso Andy Narrell, pianist Mario Canonge, bassist Michel Alibo and drummer Jean Phillippe Fanfant and they have been performing as a group for a few years now.

"We are trying to make more inroads into the US with our performance", Narrell said, adding that the quartet has performed at some of jazz’s well known spots in cities like Boston, new York and Florida to name a few.

When Jazz Review caught up with Andy Narrell, he was in Paris, a place that he has called home for the last four years. Barring the "crazy" weather, Narrell felt that the city of romance held promise for him and his band mates who also live there.

Narrell is no stranger to the jazz industry. In fact, he has been often credited as introducing the music of steel drums to jazz as a solo instrument. He has also played with the Caribbean Jazz Project along with Paquito de Riviera and is the first non-national panman to arrange for Trinidad and Tobago’s annual Panorama Steelpan Competition.

The other members of Sakesho are from the French Caribbean and also have some performance prestige to their name. They have performed with artists like Yousou N’Dour, Cheb Mami and Angelique Kidjo to name a few.

Narrell’s meeting with the other members of Sakesho was part of his own personal journey. Narrell meeting the guys ended his search for musicians who were into jazz and Caribbean music. "For a long time I have sought out people who are really the best musicians that I could play with and who are into jazz and Caribbean music. I’ve come in contact with musicians from the US who was interested in Afro-Cuban and Caribbean music and people from the Caribbean.

"I met some of these guys in the French Caribbean when I first started to travel to Guadeloupe and Martinique. I met Michel Alibio first and then Mario, and we were going to try the group together until Jean Phillipe was called in. These guys shared a very strong connection since they grew up with the music of their culture and the kind of music that they play was similar too."

Narrell added that each member were all pleased with the way they fit together musically and the Sakesho quartet was formed in 1993.

Today Sakesho has two successful CDs under their belt. They are the eponymous Sakesho and We Want You to Say. Both CDs are like a musical jazz cavalcade yet with sprinkles of French, Latin and Caribbean influences. There is no one genre to pigeonhole Sakesho’s music, except to say that it is "eclectic." "Three quarters of the band come from the Caribbean so we call our music jazz with a Caribbean feel," Narrell says. "We have a jazz-based structure. We play our composition and improvise on it using the same improv structure. But it is jazz with different types of influences."

One listen to any one of Sakesho’s CDs would encourage repeats for it is that unique and contagious. It’s the type of music you’d want to hear on a Sunday evening while enjoying dinner. Such is the soothing sounds of Sakesho. Compositions for these compilations are usually a group effort and other times done by each individual of the group. But even Narrell would admit that their influences to write such graceful compositions come from other types of music. " Music is about music and I believe the things that are most influential and inspiring for new musical ideas are all the music already out there in the world. I am interested in all the different genres of music in the world and I search out to play with musicians who are also (thinking) like that," Narrell says.

To date, there isn’t a follow-up in the works for Sakesho’s last CD We Want You to Say just yet, but some of the band members would make guest appearances on Andy Narrell’s upcoming February 2007 solo CD called Tatoom.

"I believe in these guys," Narrell concluded about his bandmates. "Whenever I have a performance with my own band, I usually call the guys and make it a Sakesho gig." We bet Narrell would not have it any other way.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Andy Narell
  • Interview Date: 4/1/2004
  • Subtitle: The French Connection
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