All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

7

Leon Foster Thomas: Brand New Mischief

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
The sound of steel pans seems to surface at beaches and poolside bars more often than jazz clubs, but that doesn't mean that these sunny-sounding metal melody makers aren't welcome or cut out for the jazz life. Steel pan trailblazers, like Jaco Pastorius-associated Othello Molineaux and jazz-meets-world music giant Andy Narell, established a place for their instrument in the jazz world a long time ago and paved the way for new and emerging pan players from future generations to join the game. Enter Leon Foster Thomas.

Thomas, a native of Trinidad now based in Florida, is poised to become the next big thing on his instrument. He's already established himself as a regional talent, winning numerous awards and dazzling crowds during live performances, but he's relatively unknown elsewhere. Thankfully, Brand New Mischief may help to rectify that unfortunate issue.

This all-original, seven-song program gives Thomas a chance to shine as a composer and performer. The album-opening "Soul Window" starts in a ruminative state, eventually reaching a joyous plateau, but the turf changes quickly with the sinister funk of "Sleepless Nights." Drummer Ludwig Alfonso turns up the heat as this song develops, delivering some high energy, crash-and-bash beats. "Amour Bleu" begins in a state of serenity but travels across a dynamic arc that takes it to new places, while "Annecy" stays put in a state of soul balladry. Thomas' penchant for lyricism comes through on this one, which sounds like it could be a long lost Stevie Wonder number.

While Thomas establishes his playing credentials early on in the album, he ups the ante on the Brazilian-tinged "Baby Powder," which proves to be a breezy and buoyant ride, and the tropically-infused "Enchantment," which cooks at high heat and features some smoking steel pan soloing. The album-closing title track is built around bassist Kurt Hengstebeck's funky lines and gives all four members of the band an opportunity to step out into the spotlight. While Thomas and pianist Allen C. Paul have plenty of space elsewhere, Hengstebeck and Alfonso don't and they both rise to the occasion here.

Brand New Mischief may help to broaden Leon Foster Thomas' audience, and he certainly deserves to be heard, but that remains to be seen. Regardless, it serves as a document of a steel pan star in the making.

Track Listing: Soul Window; Sleepless Nights; Amour Bleu; Annecy; Baby Powder; Enchantment; Bran New Mischief.

Personnel: Leon Foster Thomas: steel pan; Allen C. Paul: piano; Kurt Hengstebeck: bass; Ludwig Alfonso: drums.

Title: Brand New Mischief | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Dirt...And More Dirt CD/LP/Track Review
Dirt...And More Dirt
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 26, 2018
Read Locked & Loaded CD/LP/Track Review
Locked & Loaded
by John Kelman
Published: May 26, 2018
Read Long Story Short CD/LP/Track Review
Long Story Short
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 26, 2018
Read Awase CD/LP/Track Review
Awase
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 26, 2018
Read Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich CD/LP/Track Review
Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich
by John Sharpe
Published: May 26, 2018
Read My Singing Fingers CD/LP/Track Review
My Singing Fingers
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 25, 2018
Read "Just Funkin' Around" CD/LP/Track Review Just Funkin' Around
by Jeff Winbush
Published: August 5, 2017
Read "Aspiration" CD/LP/Track Review Aspiration
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: September 15, 2017
Read "Spiritual Impressions" CD/LP/Track Review Spiritual Impressions
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 16, 2018
Read "Thick As Thieves" CD/LP/Track Review Thick As Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Musical Journey Through Time" CD/LP/Track Review Musical Journey Through Time
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 29, 2017
Read "Solo" CD/LP/Track Review Solo
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 13, 2018