The Dave Longfellow Ensemble
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The Dave Longfellow Ensemble

Morgantown, West Virginia, United States

Morgantown, West Virginia, United States
Band Jazz World


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Album Review"

"The tunes, the performances and the sound quality are all great... a great band and a unique sound. [The DLE is] exactly what this artform needs.

-Phil Hawkins
- Phil Hawkins

"Underground Sound"

The Dave Longfellow Ensemble took a risk when they released their first album, The DLE: Vol.1, in the middle of winter. The five-member group plays Latin-infused jazz music driven by no fewer than three sets of steel pans. It's a type of sound typically reserved for those sun-soaked summer months or a trip to the Caribbean but lucky for the listener, the DLE isn't the kind of steel drum band that covers Jimmy Buffet hits and gigs exclusively at Caribbean-themed weddings.

On the contrary, the band's debut album is a melodic and dynamic sampling of the the groups extensive talent, borrowing from traditional jazz, rock-oriented instrumental bands and even chilled-out electronica.

The group smartly incorporates live drums and electric bass into its sonic arsenal, lending tracks like "Number 2" and "Getting There" an aggressive-yet-atmopsheric vibe. The steel pans are still front and center, but by using each set in a different way, the ensemble creates a distinct and unusual jazz album that would sound good to listeners whether thay are lying in an inch of sand or in a foot of snow.

- jar - The Daily Athenaeum

"It's Not Steel Drum Music It's Music On Steel Drums"

By Michelle Wolford

When you listen the the Dave Longfellow Ensemble, you get the sense that the group could veer off in just about any musical direction.

That's unusual, especially since three of the five members are playing steel drums - instruments generally associated with island and party music, say "Margaritaville" or something by Harry Belafonte.

But this group of WVU's Division of Music grads (and students) has a different set list, one crowded with Latin jazz and - gasp - original tunes.

It all started back in 2002 when Longfellow and some friends started appearing at events "basically as background music," he said.

"I went through a bunch of different musicians before I found a group of guys who wanted to do this," Longfellow said.

But in 2004, something besides the musicians changed. Longfellow did a semester abroad - in Trinidad and Tobago.

"I started writing a lot," he said when he came back to Morgantown, "I started throwing original tunes into the mix."

So Longfellow got busy. the group recorded a demo at the CAC, with some help from steel pan player Glen Rowsey. "We started trying to market ourselves outside of the normal summer gigs. Epsicially on the college level, people were really starting to get into it."

The group has performed around the state, and in Ohio and Pennsylavania. The five were asked to play the Festival of Steel, an event orginaized by Mannette Steel Drums, for last two summers.

With every show, The Dave Longfellow Ensemble tucked away a little bit. Last summer, the group took it to a new level: They went to Atlanta to start recording a full-length CD.

Friday, the group will launch that recording at FUEL, 234 Walnut St., in Morgantown, WV.

And on that disk, the group thanks the man who made the group possible: Elliot “Ellie” Mannette, the founder of Mannette Steel Drums, Ltd and the man who’s known the world over as the creator of the modern steel drum, “for creating such beautiful instruments for the world to enjoy.”

Longfellow was studying trumpet at Westwood Middle School when the school bought a set of Mannette’s drums - one of the first schools in the area to do so.

Jim Morford, also a steel drummer, came to WVU to work on a music degree - after he finished a degree in physics at the University of Maryland. He ended up in the WVU steel drums band - and eventually in the ensemble.

That’s not Mannette’s only helping hand along the way.

“We’ve definitely learned a lot from him, hanging out with him,” Longfellow said. They also play his steel drums.

The other pan player in the group Keith Moone, started working at Mannette Steel Drums in September.

“We have close ties with everybody over there,” Longfellow said. “Glen Rowsey’s been super helpful. And he played on the demo we recorded two summers ago.”
Mannette said he’s proud of the work Longfellow and “the young boys” have done. “All of them are damn good players, and they adapt to anything Dave gives them to play.”

Mannette has been watching Longfellow since his middle school days. “I observed David since he was a kid,” he said, “and I saw his demeanor with the pan and his general brightness with the instrument and that he wanted to be a great pannist. I told his dad, ‘My observation is he will be another Andy Narell or better’ - he’s a virtuoso around the world. I told his dad that back when David was in school in Westover.

“He became one of the best young people who ever played at WVU and he’s the best since,” Mannette said. “He’s so bright in all the instruments. He’s a great musician at this early stage of his career. I think he will be the greatest pan man I ever saw - and he’s so young still.”

Longfellow turned 23 on Feb. 1.

The Dave Longfellow Ensemble is a varied group, but they’re all daredevils when is comes to music.

“We’re not afraid to take a chance,” Morford said.

“Sometimes it works out well and sometimes it falls apart. But if there’s even a shred of something that might work, that’s something we’ll go back on and hit on it. Nobody’s too egotistical in the group - If I come up with an idea that just isn’t good, we’ll scrap it. A lot of times the sort of chances we’ll take love or in rehearsal - that’s where the songs come to life.”

Most of the songs on “The DLE: Vol. 1" have a Latin flavor to them. And all but one are originals, most written by Longfellow. And then there’s “A Blast of Wind.”

“We actually do an Irish jig,” Longfellow said.

Morford brought the traditional Irish tune to Longfellow and the two arranged it together. “It’s the only song on (the disc) that’s not completely original,” Morford said.

The group had a pleasant surprise at a show at the University of Miami (Ohio). “We played to a packed crowd,” Longfellow said, “so packed that people were running into our drums. It was kind of amazing the someone would take to an instrumental group like that.”

And the crowd knew their - The Dominion Post


The Dave Longfellow Ensemble

The DLE: Vol. 1

Getting There - EP



The Dave Longfellow Ensemble is an instrumental quintet focusing on the performance of aggressive/progressive Latin jazz music. The DLE is dedicated to creating new musical expressions involving the steel pans, and to spreading the beauty and versatility of these instruments to new audiences.

Major musical influences on the DLE range a broad spectrum from Debussy to the Dave Mathews band, and include; Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Jaco Pastorious, The Beatles, John Coltrane, Michel Camilo, and folk music from around the world.

Members of the DLE have performed with some of the most visible and respected members of the steel drum world, including; Dr. Ellie Mannette, Andy Narell, Jeff Narell, Robbie Greenidge, Ray Holman, Ken “Professor” Philmore, Dr. Christopher Tanner, Phil Hawkins, Darren Dyke, and Pan Ramajay.

Playing extensively in West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the DLE has the versatility to blow the roof off of a packed club or to entertain hundreds at large festivals. Live performances consist of original music as well as a myriad of cover songs arranged by band members. In concert, the DLE combines modern grooves, jazz harmonies, infectious melodies, and rhythms of the African Diaspora to produce a high-energy show filled with improvisation and spontaneity.