Steel pan virtuoso Andy Narell with Mario Canonge, bassist Michel Alibo, and drummer Jean-Philippe Fanfant form Sakesho, a jazz quartet who draws much of their inspiration from the syncopated, polyrhythmic music from the islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe. The group lives up to their top billing with a collective heart in the musical mysteries of the French Caribbean on their first self-titled CD, one that features several videos, a bio, and song descriptions. Andy Narrell, who has pioneered the role of the steel pan in contemporary music, wrote three of the compositions. "Laventille," which has a calypso beat from Trinidad, spotlights a beautiful piano solo by Mario Canonge. Canonge is a top jazz session player and bandleader in his own right and is one of the leading interpreters of the beguine. "Mabouya," the Creole name for a big, slow lizard, is played in a 3/4 French Caribbean rhythm known as a mazouka. The song is based on the chords of Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" and features some great drumming by Jean-Philippe Fanfant. "Song for Mia" is the purest example of the beguine on Sakesho, with an effortless groove that's pure delight. As soothing as a field of daisies and just as cozy, this is a wonderful song to unwind and relax to. With vocals contributed by Polo Athanase, a folkloric singer from Martinique, they take the song to a higher level at the end with pulsating gwoka drumming by Fanfant. Sakesho, with their amazing offering of rhythmic diversity -- beguine, mazouka, calypso, and traditional gwoka drumming styles -- will have your feet moving to their spontaneity and soulful energy.
AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein