Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

14

Leon Foster Thomas: Metamorphosis

James Nadal By

Sign in to view read count
Being one of the newest percussion instruments on the planet, (circa 1939) the steel pan is actually on a similar timeline with the development of modern jazz. Taking into consideration strong African influences and a hybridization process, they appear to be a natural combination. Pan Master Leon Foster Thomas has taken the instrument most associated with his homeland of Trinidad, right into the heart of jazz composition and performance with Metamorphosis, in a bold rhythmic and melodic encounter.

With shades of early Kaiso (calypso) music blended with jazz, "Kai-Fusion," lays the soundscape for the pan to interplay with the horns, all revolving around carnival derivations and imaginings. The utilization of twin trumpets and a sax gives this opening track exhilarating anticipation and excitement. In a throwback to when bands had to play dance music to make it, "Midnight Refrain," honors the speakeasies and clubs where the audience and musicians collided in a mutual sense of satisfaction and good times.

The "Gulf of Paria," lies in between Trinidad and Venezuela, and in this piece Thomas portrays an aquatic introspection exercise, commencing with a tranquil piano/pan melody, setting the mood for trumpeter John Daversa to soar into the clouds. "In the Corner," is a personal manifestation of a musicians doubts, and how to overcome them. Thomas enters unchartered zones, rising with angst, and sliding into consolation, revealing a full spectrum of emotions. Percussionist Sammy Figueroa is featured on "Delusion of a Dream," the most Caribbean flavored track, and "Unknown Memory," is a bop-fusion adventure with Daversa on the EVI (electronic valve instrument) for a futuristic approach.

The sounds and influence of reggae are evident on "Dubplate Swing," but then Thomas dives into blues territory with some clever harmonious twists and turns, accenting the pan against the horns. The African currents flow within the soca inspired Nelson Mandela tribute "Take A Bow," Jean Caze playing vivid trumpet phrasing reminiscent of Hugh Masakela. "A Whiter Shade of Pale," endures as one of the great ballads of the rock era, and Thomas—with perfect piano accompaniment by Martin Bejeran—performs an intimate odyssey, as if the song was initially intended to be performed on a steel pan. A lesson in mastery of technique, tone and tempo, all as the ceiling flew away. The band all gets to stretch out on "Cry of Hope," a rising frenetic bopper which closes out the repertoire on a high note.

Whereas the steel pans are usually centered on calypso and other Caribbean music, Leon Foster Thomas has an abstract crossover intent. He utilizes formal musical training and education, combined with his innate Trinidad heritage, to obtain maximum benefit of the uniqueness options. This is steel pan music for contemporary times, no longer is it a novel instrument with colorful applications. He takes his jazz compositions seriously, and technically exhibits how the steel pan can be applied within these parameters. Metamorphosis is defined as a marked change in appearance, character, and function, all applicable to Thomas, and his music, as he takes this relatively young instrument into maturity.

Track Listing: Kai-Fusion; Midnight Refrain; Gulf Of Paria; In The Corner; Delusion Of A Dream; Unknown Memory; Dubplate Swing; Take A Bow; A Whiter Shade Of Pale; Cry Of Hope.

Personnel: Leon Foster Thomas; steel pan, percussion; Martin bejerano: piano; Kurt Hengstebeck: upright bass, electric bass; Michael Piolet: drums; Jean Caze: trumpet; David Palma: tenor sax, flute; Fernando Ulibarri: guitar; John Daversa: trumpet, EVI; Sammy Figueroa: percussion.

Title: Metamorphosis | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Ropeadope


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Child in Me CD/LP/Track Review The Child in Me
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Way Home CD/LP/Track Review The Way Home
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Shadow Work CD/LP/Track Review Shadow Work
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Veterans of Jazz CD/LP/Track Review Veterans of Jazz
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read "Presence" CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 13, 2017
Read "Landing" CD/LP/Track Review Landing
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Danse" CD/LP/Track Review Danse
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Before The Silence" CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Honey And Salt" CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 10, 2017
Read "Mission Cimbalom" CD/LP/Track Review Mission Cimbalom
by Geannine Reid
Published: September 7, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor