There are certain instruments folks wouldn't ordinarily associate with jazz music, and the steel pan (used in soca and calypso) is on that list. But on Andy Narell's latest disc, Tatoom, the pan is taken to a different level, and the jazz tunes that are created here seem abstract at worse, but never out of place. On the album's title song, Narell begins with a mellow vibe the steel pans stay dormant until the two-minute mark, then slowly drive toward a sonic climax that doesn't subside until the end of the track. Tenor saxophonist David Sanchez joins in on the bossa nova-ish "Tabanca," improvising with arrangements reminiscent of Stan Getz's work with Antonio Carlos Jobim. But on the slow samba tune "Blue Mazooka," Miles Davis alum Mike Stern contributes electric guitar in free form giving the song an East Coast jazz feel. In that sense, Tatoom succeeds in bridging the gap between various musical genres, and the crafty use of the steel pan on every track is a sonic risk that works out well.
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