Now, if you’re like me you’re constantly seeking to quench your thirst for fresh music by familiar and for me new artists as well. Sakesho’s (pronounced sah kay show) serves up an exciting sophomore project on Heads Up Records titled “We Want You to Say” maybe without a doubt one of the most infectious and innovative records that you’ll hear this year. Producer Andy Narell says, “the last four years have been an intense growth period for me”. Bingo! The developmental process for Sakesho is and will continue to be phenomenal. This is certainly an achievement to be proud of, kudos to Narell, Heads Up Records and the gang for establishing themselves as prime composers, forward thinking record label (executives) and amazingly talented musicianship in an unstable marketplace that doesn’t have much value for talent let alone creative music of this magnitude. 


The Players: Mario Canonge ~ piano, Jean Philippe Fanfant ~ drummer, Michel Alibo ~ bass and Andy Narell ~ steel pans, Produced by Andy Narell for Heads Up Records © 2005


The incredibly talented pianist Mario Canonge who hails from the French Caribbean islands pens the opening track “Bwa Moudong”. The quartet’s interplay and dynamic improvisational skills are positively challenging and uncompromising works of art. 


Drummer Jean Philippe Fanfant scores “Ewa Belia, that just happens to be his first composition for the band. The structure is based on the belia – “a traditional rhythm from the island of Martinique”. Sakesho is wired for the groove never wavering as Fanfant drumming is unlike anything I have heard before. His playful yet powerful syncopated rhythms are simply exhausting.


It’s so easy to become engulfed by the flawless musical expressions that artists like Andy Narell often captures fluently without breaking a sweat. Narell pen the next tune it is titled “One More Touch”. This is without a doubt classic Narell. The changes and interplay are brilliant there is no mistaking this is jazz on the tip. Andy’s pulsating steel pan playing will leave you drooling. Pianist Canonge is awesome!


Pianist Canonge scores another riveting composition, this one’s titled “Dance Ska La”. This track is a bright and colorful tune with underlying hooks and textures of Jamaican ska music. Narell’s pan solos fully supports this idea. Fanfant’s drumming skills are masterful. This composition challenges you to never ease up in this listening experience because at a moments notice you’ll miss several valuable interchanges between the players.


The title track “We Want You to Say” is written by bassist Michel Alibo and it has hints of early Hancock stitched into it. Alibo is a serious contender in the who’s who of funky bass players in contemporary jazz. Pianist Canonge’s solos on this track taps into the tradition of the Sixties bop players as he strides his way up and down the 88’s fiercely!


Narell pens “Baby Steps” at the 6th position on “We Want You to Say”. The rhythmic phrasing and colors features guest artist Magic Malik who’s an Afro Caribbean flutist. Malik sounds similar to Dave Valentin’s fire breathing tonality and technique.


Bassist Michel Alibo pens another tasty composition this one’s titled “Jou La Pli”. On this cut what I hear is sort of mosaic like texture; this is what jazz is to me. The melodies magically flow with haunting backing vocals enunciating each note of the title of the song. In time this rhythmic pace changes in flight, suspended in motion, arriving at its destination leaving and lasting imprint within this soundscape. 


Cha-Cha Ou Inmin Mwen is a duo piece written by the talented Canonge. This duo offering featuring Canonge and Narell is sonically beautiful; it’s truly a masterpiece. 


“Izo’s Mood” concludes this fascinating collection of inspiring songs by Sakesho. The title of this track is named for “Andy’s son, Isaac, “who played the melodies on the sax for him while he was writing the it”.  This jam starts off in the classic Narell mode with funky drumbeats by Jean Philippe Fanfant and bassist Michel Alibo slides in and out by navigating his fret with divine purpose. And then Andy Narell quietly yet precisely executes the steel pan notes as if he was born with the instrument in his hands. Pianist Mario Canonge is without a doubt a masterful player, nuff said!


For those of you who by chance missed their self-titled debut in 2002, you missed out on a treat of a lifetime musically. Sakesho exemplifies in their ability to travel thru this myriad of complex changes, demonstrating that their exuberant interplay and improvised solos are beyond brilliant. If you’ve never heard this group, you have certainly missed out on an opportunity to hear some truly magnificent and thought provoking music and distinguished musicianship. Jot down these names and please do yourself a favor and remember them because you’re bound to meet these guys in another musical setting along the path of discovery. Sakesho on their second offering “We Want You to Say” showcases an extensive and imaginatively intense mix of fresh music that cuts to the core of their spontaneous musicianship and hopefully “we’ll” have the opportunity to catch them in concert in the near future.


People in the United States don’t know much about this music yet, but we believe it’ll happen”






q       Visit and listen to Sakesho’s at Heads Up Records:

q       Buy their new album “We Want You to Say …at Heads Up and fine music stores everywhere!