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Pulling no Punches - Andy Narell, Arranger for birdsong Steel Orchestra, Speaks on the 2014 Panorama Season

An exclusive WST interview with Panorama arranger, recording and performing artist Andy Narell


Andy Narell“...You ask if I want to win Panorama.  In its present form, I would have to say it doesn’t interest me at all.  I would however like to be able to play my music at the finals, and have always considered that a privilege  worth striving for.  Every year I’ve participated I’ve tried my best to get my band there, and it’s very disappointing to not be invited to the party...”  Andy Narell

Global -  Panorama arranger for birdsong Steel Orchestra Andy Narell  shares his thoughts and speaks candidly about the recently-concluded 2014 Trinidad and Tobago National Panorama in an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks.  The annual Trinidad & Tobago Panorama is the world’s premiere tuned percussion competition.

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I read the complete interview and I know all what he is speaking about players with many bands, the musical arrangement songs the same way every year, the early days arrangers playing their own songs, the main problem that the same judges who don't even produce not even a song or have any musical group but came and adjudicate at panorama, but Andy I know that you can do better than what you done for the last two panorama. I would like to hear your arrangement for " Pan Is Beautiful" also try for next year a song from our local so call pan song,remember that this is a Trini thing and all the best in the future.


Curtis Williams, Andy knows how to arrange a panorama tune, trini standards, he did so with 'Coffee Street' and 'Appreciation' with Skiffle Bunch. Today many arrangers, just like Andy, want to change the trini panorama format because it seems impossible today for them to beat Boogsie and Smooth on finals night. Blaming other arrangers for repeating the same arrangement for many years should not be a problem for Andy, they simply will get nowhere with that, hence the reason why Andy should be a force today in trini panorama finals. Panorama is a competition. I wish today Ray Holman had the epic fire he sustain long ago when he prepared Starlift and Pandemonium for battle at panorama finals night.


Sure Andy should be a force in panorama and as for Ray, the Dougla music aint catchin on so he might have to divorce the two and choose one.

As my final words on this topic. a story I've told before bears repeating.

I first heard of Andy Narell via a jazz radio station from Boston in the mid eighties. To be honest, I had never heard of him before that.

Back in those days , I was still single, living in Southern New Hampshire, and as a lover of jazz, I used a Boston jazz station as my  alarm clock.

One morning, I was surprised by the sweet sound of pan coming from my radio.

This was very unusual, folks, so I was immediately all ears.

At the end of the piece, the Boston radio DJ said ,( and I never forgot this, and I'm trying to remember the quote as it was said)

"That was Andy Narell on steel drums. Andy has gone to Trinidad to learn about the steel drum, but I do not think he has anything to learn there, since he's one of the best".

I've tried to remember the quote as exactly as it was said, but that was 1986, folks, the year Andy went to Trinidad and appeared in Panorama with three different steelbands.

Obviously, Andy felt that he had something to learn.

Honestly, I don't know what it all means, folks, I just find the incident to be of some interest, and worth re-telling.


Panorama is a COMPETITION,let me repeat, a COMPETITION....the price of admittance to every round is POINTS to make the CUT........are you suggesting that an arranger be given bonus points because Pan NEEDS them more, than THEY need Pan......today I have heard it all....boy you are the most!

Bob, Kitch gone,Bradley gone,Bertie gone,Spree gone as many other greats have gone.....never once have I heard any one of them say the music/instrument needed them more, that they needed the art/instrument.....such nerve!

Bob like I keep saying and you keep side steeping, this have nothing to do with local-foreigner....it's about the music....and it's ability to incite the emotions of those who hear it......maybe the simplest of arrangement may create the "I love this" moment.

If you make the cut as a judge......I can see where your obvious bias would lie.

  Bob....I deleted my first reply and reposted this edited one.

Bucking you?.....Really?....you got jokes.....you really do!......reluctantly and studiously trying to be polite,I have continued this conversation with you,because at some point I thought we can discuss primarily how to improve/promote Pan the musical instrument,and secondarily the Panorama Competition for all bands,arrangers,players and the fans,but you are stuck on what serves "the Man who doesn't need the Pan." and with little consideration and NO RESPECT for the pioneers/inventors/competitors ( they need the Pan ) and other arranger- bands who have also spend hundred of thousands of dollars and many hours creating,practicing and rehearsing to WIN de Rama!     

Oh, and please save your "brilliant mind" accolades for yourself and your hero,whom you PROMOTE as the last and only word in Pan....your Pan Messiah......I am allergic to condescending words.

Last Words..... Our Heroes who devote/d their lives to the Pan,did/do so,not because they need/ed the Pan,but they did/do so because they recognize/d that the World needs Pan! Giving as against demanding!

I have followed this melee ...of pan panorama ...pan arranging and has made several contributions to the bacchanal ..Andy might not have done enough ..to get to t he big yard..but why treat him like a  Pariah ..why the cut throat attitude...I can remember when Boogsie received his share of drubbing for being...different/creative..accused being too jazzy and more.he continued and prevailed. Change will come one day, as Dr. Simon... intimated.....the Panorama arrangements today  offered  nothing new and as he said lots of gimmicks..and repetition ..just back track a bit and listen to some of the arrangements  of the 1900's and you will get the picture.


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