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Sakesho: We Want You to Say... (2005)

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Sakesho: We Want You to Say... How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Andy Narell is a man of the world—in the kindest, most musical sense. Having performed and recorded with some of the biggest names in contemporary jazz—such as Dave Samuels, Marcus Miller, Chucho Valdez, Hugh Masekela, and Spyro Gyra—he always brings an international element to the table, whether it's his trademark Caribbean sound on the steel drums or the way he mixes it up with South African or European musicians. Or his latest effort, Sakesho. Narell shares the studio with two musicians from Martinique—pianist Mario Conange and bass guitarist Michael Alibo—plus drummer Jean Phillippe Fanfant of Guadalupe.

The foursome has come together for its second release, We Want You to Say..., an exceptional collection of nine tracks. Although it's a studio recording, this album adopts the increasingly common practice of extended play that gives the songs a live feel.

Sakesho has its roots in the beguine, an intensely syncopated, polyrhythmic sound from the French Caribbean. Interestingly, all three Caribbean-born members have called Paris home at some point in their lives—two of them (Canonge and Alibo) still live there.

Appropriate to the beguine influence, tempo changes are common on this disc, particularly noted on the opening track, Canonge's "Bwa Moudong. Fanfant's first composition for the group is "Ewa Belia, a traditional rhythm in 3/4 time. The casual listener may not notice all the variations of this piece, with hi-hat, kick drum, and snare all doing something different. Alibo serves up a funk fest on the title song. "We Want You to Say features the bassist in a Pattitucci/Miller-esque groove while his bandmates inject a New Orleans flavor. The rest of the album delivers more of the same: straight jazz with a French Caribbean twist, highlighted by brilliant solos and tight rhythms.

It's not clear from the title what Sakesho wants listeners to say. But from this corner, it's a definite "Oh, yeah! We Want You to Say... is rated GF for grooves and funk.

Track Listing: Bwa Moudong, Ewa Belia, One More Touch, Dance Ska La, We Want You to Say, Baby Steps, Jou La Pli, Cha-cha Ou Inmin Mwen, Izos Mood

Personnel: Andy Narell, steel pans; Mario Canonge, piano, Fender Rhodes, vocals; Jean Philippe Fanfant, drums, vocals; Michel Alibo, bass, vocals; Angelique Kidjo, vocals on Ewa Belia

Record Label: Heads Up International

Style: Modern Jazz


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