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Relator, Narrel take the University of Calypso to Grenada

Saturday, May 17, 2014
Andy Narell, left, and Lord Relator during a recording session. PHOTO COURTESY: UNIVERSITY OF CALYPSO/ANITA BONAN

Veteran calypsonian Relator (Willard Harris) and US-based pannist Andy Narell will be appearing at the Caribbean Jazz Safari in Grenada on June 1 for a showcase of their University of Calypso. These days, in many instances, jazz artistes incorporate other styles into their music, whether it is blues, R&B, pop, classical or Latin. Half a century ago, jazz and calypso were fused together for the first time, and in 2009 Narell and Relator revisited that relationship with the release of the CD University of Calypso. 


Most diverse in recent times
The two have been playing together for years, and decided to embark on the University of Calypso project in the spirit of the calypso pioneers of the 1950s. Narell assembled a group of Latin jazz all stars in New York, and invited maestro Paquito D’Rivera to join the ensemble. The ensuing result is documented on the CD, arguably one of the most diverse concept recordings of recent times. Front and centre is the Calypso as it was meant to be, strong on lyrics and melody but suitable for listening and dancing with hybrid jazz/calypso musical arrangements. Still for all, University is an exposé of how the Calypso works in the context of relating current events as well as being a conduit for humour, exaggerated or raunchy. Together, they perform 15 classic compositions by Lord Kitchener, Lord Melody, Mighty Terror, Roaring Lion, Spider, and Relator. Tracks include: Gavaskar; Love in the Cemetery; Food Prices; Pan in Harmony; Eating Competition; Steel Band Music; My Pussin; Sugar for Pan; Hold Onto Your Man; Peddlars; Bottle and Spoon; Take Yuh Meat Out Meh Rice; Pan on Sesame Street; Ugly Woman; My Brother Your Sister.  


Personnel are: Andy Narell: steel pan; Relator: vocals, guitar; Darlo Eskenazl: piano; Dario Eskenazi: piano; Gregory Jones: bass instrument, bass guitar; Mark Walker: drums; Marco Araya-Correa: cuatro; Paquito D’Rivera: clarinet, alto saxophone; Pedro Martinez: congas, bongos, timbales; and Inor Sotolongo: percussion. “Andy and I have been doing live performances of the recording all over the world,” said Relator. “The responses have been overwhelming, and have justified the hard work that went into the project. This upcoming appearance in Grenada presents yet another opportunity to showcase the Calypso art form before the international community.” “I believe this project has great potential to reach people,” said Narell. 


Fit for all listeners
“The music is so accessible, people can latch on to so many different things—the beautiful melodies, the groove for dancing, the stories told in the lyrics, the humor, the jazz elements, how the band plays together and interacts, the soloing—and on top of it all, we’ve got an incredibly dynamic guy out front singing these songs, a real storyteller in the great calypso tradition.” 
The Caribbean Jazz Safari inaugural musical ride was staged between January 17 and 21, 2013 in Barbados. The shows treat jazz fans to both Caribbean and international performers of the highest caliber in exotic settings. 

It is the brainchild of Tom Hinds, managing director of Damal Investments and well-known promoter of high-quality jazz events at his scenic Naniki Restaurant and Lush Life Resort in St Joseph, Barbados. The unique event is under the aegis of Damal Investments, the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Tourism Authorities of Barbados, Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada and St Vincent & the Grenadines. The Safari features another first for jazz education in the Caribbean with the Traveling Guitar Foundation interactive workshops for secondary schools. This regional outreach with its fundamentals in quality jazz performance, education and tourism is a great boost for aspiring Caribbean artistes.


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