Dis 1. 4. Raf Andy Narell
(Listen 2 Records)
As if driving home the point that the pendulum of commercial influence for steelpan appears to be moving away from Trinidad was not enough, now comes the new release by American steelpan musician Andy Narell that boasts not one, but two CDs of refined exploitation of the sound and ambience of the steelpan in the context of a jazz quartet and as musical partner with piano. Dis 1. 4. Raf, a tribute to the late Caribbean jazz pioneer Raf Robertson, is another rung in the ladder of success of Narell. With his cohort of players from Cuba and Guadeloupe, Narell on this album weaves a new path for the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago to tread that encompasses influences beyond the archipelago. On the second CD, a duet, he juxtaposes the enhanced idea of modern percussive and rhythmic sounds from the New World—the steelpan—and the Old World—the piano—to subdued and subtle brilliance.
The Robin Imamshah Files Various Artists
The arc of influence in music by the 1970s was weighing heavily towards the US with its pop and R&B developments that made inroads globally in islands and countries that wanted to dance. Young people were making grooves that at the time, were local in their influence, but global in their vision. The commerce did not always reflect their desire. Now 40 years later, Cree Records out of Germany is repackaging this island music for the world. A limited edition of popular Trinidadian producer, Robin Imamshah’s output in the latter part of 1970s—500 copies of a vinyl compilation of six songs on three 45-rpm records—reveal what those young musicians were aiming at. American Soul, Funk, Rock, Calypso, and the nascent soca were all absorbed to define a new direction in music, a “Trinidad Boogie,” if you will. Imamshah’s sure-handed grasp of musical trends of that time results in a half dozen gems that still can move feet.
All Night Long (Single) Rochelle
Suriname and other former Dutch colonies in the Caribbean have been home to and have given the world a slew of talented singers and musicians that continue to enthral. These artists also retain the DNA of Caribbean-ness in their sound as they make it “out there.” Rochelle Perts—her father is from Suriname—won the Dutch version of X Factor in 2011, and it shows; this girl can sing! In 2016 she returns with a new single, “All Night Long” that echoes the growing trend in pop music that is finally embracing the rhythms of modern Caribbean dance music. Dancehall and soca are two modern beats that are felt, and heard subliminally by the twang of her patois in this mid-tempo groove song that suggests slyly—“Spark my firestone / We dance in the danger zone / Come feel how my river flows / Eh eh, all night long”—that she is ready to go all night long.
Moving On Jason ‘Fridge’ Seecharan
Smooth voiced crooner, Jason ‘Fridge’ Seecharan, stepped out of the popular R&B vocal quartet H2O Flo some years ago to make a name for himself. This, his debut full length album, is aptly titled Moving On, as it signals a strengthening of the idea that he has left the others behind and is finding a voice that works effectively in the myriad island pop singers crooning to the ladies. Reggae has its share, but this Trinidadian vocalist has an almost falsetto sound that belies his name—’Fridge’ is imposing in person—and uses that voice to good use on these eleven songs, which includes a catchy Christmas song, “Christmas Time” that could become a Caribbean standard if well marketed. The tracks feature smooth jazz, modern reggae, Indo-Caribbean fusion, pop-soca, and can make the case that popular music in the Caribbean continues to find the new groove with high production values that work well and gets better every year.
- These reviews appear in the November/December 2016 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2016, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.