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Jonathan Scales is A Bad Man:
This Cat can play the steelpan


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New York, USA - First off: Jonathan Scales is a bad man.  He traveled for 12 hours from South Carolina to drop his brand of Jazz/rock/fusion in New York at "The Shrine"  in Harlem for a six o'clock performance on September 11.  If you are going to perform musically in the stomping grounds of Max, Bird, Dizzy, Miles and Gillespie among others you have got to bring it.

Scales’ eclectic performance was thrilling.  This was the first time When Steel Talks had caught a live performance of Mr. Scales and his company of serious musicians known collectively as the Jonathan Scales Fourchestra.  We were not disappointed.  This cat can play, and his band can perform.  Scales has the control and touch of a Robert Greenidge but the controlled, edgy abandonment and creativity of a Len "Boogsie" Sharpe.  If everyone else is performing Algebra - Jonathan Scales is performing complex math, Calculus - partial differential equations.  We are not talking space cadet stuff.  We are talking about a Thelonious Monk-like attitude with a Mozart creativity that works.

Jonathan was quite remarkable.  The band is well rehearsed but not stodgy.  He is equipped with an abundance of talent, but does not take it for granted, with each flick of his steelpan sticks making a musical point - just on the steelpan.  With his three bandmates, the Jonathan Scales Fourchestra was in town for too short a time, and with not enough fanfare.

For those who are wistful for straw hats, brightly printed shirts and island fare-styled steelpan, what Jonathan Scales drops is not for the faint of heart.  He takes you to the era when a serious group of guys would get together for a jam session which was recorded live, and which, listening to it, makes one to this day, think - what on earth would music be like if that session was not captured. 

This does not mean that Jonathan Scales has peaked; by no means.  But it is clear that the steelpan in the hands of Scales is a cutting edge musical tool that demands any serious musician stand up and take note - and be aware.

Catch him if you can; you will be very impressed.  At the end of the day Scales is going to be a major player in rewriting the books on steelpan music outside the box.  His non-Caribbean approach and roots leave him with a latitude and freedom not seen or executed by other steelpan players except for maybe a Boogsie Sharpe.  In addition, Jonathan is not locked into or limited by the instrument configurations as so many other steelpan instrumentalists are.

Catch him - while he is still within reach of the masses.

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