Andy Narell

Live in South Africa

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Live in South Africa Review

by Paula Edelstein

Steel pan virtuoso Andy Narell releases his first "live" recording Live in South Africa on this great two-disc enhanced CD recorded at the end of his April 2000 tour to which he played to a crowd estimated at between 60-80 thousand people. Joined by Louis Mhlanga on guitar, Danny Lalouette on bass, Andile Yenana on keyboards, Rob Watson on drums, and Basi Mahlasela on percussion, in the "engine room," Andy Narell plays one of the best sets of his career with this excellent band that is clearly in their comfort zone. The multicultural language he speaks on his steel pans on "Kalinda" and "Out of the Blue" is so expressive that you wouldn't believe these are actually instruments made from discarded steel oil drums. He slows the tempo down a bit on the ballad "Heads or Tails" and it's a real beauty. The pure tones and melodicism of Narell's steel pans shimmer with a romantic ambience that will make you fall in love if you aren't already. The "engine room" is wide open on "Hannibal's Revenge" and they are really pushing the envelope with the addition of African and cultural grooves. The tones Narell gets out of his pans are awesome. From the highest pitch of the Ping-Pong pan to the bass of the boom pan, Narell's playing is truly exhilarating. If you liked Fire in the Engine Room, Narell's 1999 release, then you are sure to love Live in South Africa. It's hot, it grooves, it's happy, and it rocks.

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