Andy Narell recorded his first album as a leader in 1979 and has never looked back. He’s spent the past 39 years exploring the possibilities of the steel pan in contemporary music, and is equally known as a jazz improviser and steel band composer. His work is the subject of two documentary films – ‘Andy and the Jumbies’ and ‘Calypso Fever.’ In 2017 Narell was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame.
Narell has made 16 albums as leader, one as co-leader with Relator (University of Calypso), two as co-leader of the Caribbean Jazz Project (with Paquito D’Rivera and Dave Samuels), and two as co-leader of Sakesho (with Mario Canonge, Michel Alibo, and Jean Philippe Fanfant). Along the way he has worked with an incredible diversity of artists, such as Bela Fleck, Marcus Miller, Chucho Valdes, Maraca y Otro Vision, Bebo Valdes, Irakere, Tito Puente, Orquestra Aragon, Pedrito Martinez, Flora Purim and Airto, Chico Pinheiro, Vince Mendoza, The WDR Big Band (Koln), The Metropole Orchestra (Holland), The HR Big Band (Frankfurt), Sixun, Andre Ceccarelli, Bireli Lagrene, Spyro Gyra, Dr. Billy Taylor, Nancy Wilson, Etienne Charles, Mike Marshall and Darol Anger, Montreux, David Rudder, Black Stalin, Lord Superior, Andre Tanker, Kassav, Tanya St. Val, Jon Lucien, Anthony Joseph, Fra Fra Sound, Angelique Kidjo, Etienne Mbappe, Mokhtar Samba, Karim Ziad, Ray Lema, Kora Jazz Band, Jimmy Dludlu, Blick Bassy, Fatoumata Diawara, Vusi Mahlasela, Musik Y Afrika, Abderrahim Benthami, Meddy Gerville, Kepa Junkera, Philippe Lavil, Toto, Aretha Franklin, Keith Terry and Crosspulse, and the Kronos String Quartet. He has performed on movie scores by James Horner, Maurice Jarre, Elmer Bernstein, Hans Zimmer, Michel Colombier, Thomas Newman, and Carmine Coppola, and his compositions are featured in the film ‘PAN – Our Music Odyssey,’ as well as ‘The Firm,’ TV shows like Designing Women and Going to Extremes, and commercials for Apple Computers, Sony, Porsche, and Southwest Bell.
As a bandleader and soloist he has played hundreds of concerts and jazz festivals all over the world.
In 1999 Andy became the first foreigner to compose for Trinidad’s Panorama steel band competition, guiding the 100 player Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra to the finals of both the 1999 and 2000 Panoramas. In 2007 he collaborated with Trinidad All Stars for a concert of his steel band music at the Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan and Jazz Festival, and returned to Panorama to compose music for birdsong steel orchestra from 2013 to 2016.
He has been an artist in residence at Univ. of North Texas, Wichita St. Univ., Univ. of West Virginia, Univ. of Akron, Univ. of Illinois, Northern Illinois Univ., Miami Univ.(Ohio), Univ. of Southern Mississippi, Eastern Kentucky Univ., Univ. of Iowa, Northwestern Univ., Texas Tech Univ., Univ. of Delaware, Univ. of Missouri, Univ. of Arizona, Cal St. Univ. Long Beach, Humboldt St. Univ., Arizona St. Univ., Stanford Univ., Univ. of Washington, Calypsociation (France), Birdsong Academy (Trinidad), Laborie Steel Pan (Saint Lucia), Angel Harps (Grenada), Pan Village (Japan), Women in Steel(NYC), Seattle Women’s Steel Pan Project, and many other schools.