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Spotlighting the internationality of jazz by offering a wide range of music from all over the world—including such diverse releases as the recent Africa Straight Ahead ; Word of Mouth, a Jaco Pastorius tribute album; and The Caribbean Jazz Project —the only common denominator at Telarc’s Heads Up imprint is outstanding recording quality and the unexpected. Their latest release, The Passage, proves no exception.
Capturing the compositional and instrumental skill of steel pan artist Andy Narell, The Passage boasts a 30-member steel pan orchestra; guest soloists Michael Brecker, Paquito D’Rivera, and Hugh Masekela; and seven original Narell compositions. Audiophiles will also be interested in the advanced recording and mixing techniques employed on the album. Using a combination of live recording, overdubbing, and careful mixing, Narell has succeeded in capturing the notoriously difficult to present subtleties and force of steel pan music. The album will additionally be released in stereo and enhanced SACD formats, so those with the requisite equipment—whether dedicated steel pan fans or not—will reap the benefits.
Musically, The Passage is a smooth-toned affair presenting a balanced, often quite delicate compositional style. Steel pan enthusiasts will certainly find Narell’s playing exceptional and those interested in exploring something new will definitely encounter an unusual experience in the range and tonal complexity of steel pan orchestral music as presented here.