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Posts Tagged ‘Mahavishnu Orchestra’

Here’s a great review of a recent Jonathan Scales Fourchestra show at the Rockwood Music Hall in NYC:

… I was able to catch the Asheville, North Carolina-based genre mashing act, the Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, who were ironically enough for this show at least, a trio, and not a quartet. Their material centered on rhythm and percussion as the band was comprised of a steel drummer, a drummer and a bassist. As Scales joked on more than one occasion, you weren’t going to hear some stereotypical calypso covers – or calypso-styled standards. Instead what we all heard was some jazz fusion that at time owed a heavy debt to bands such as Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra and several others but with a playful, goofy, mischievous air, while being quite funky. The steel drum played the unusual role of simultaneously setting the melody and rhythm, pulling the song forward, which allowed their drummer to play with unusual and angular jazz syncopation. And to be honest, it was truly novel (which is something I don’t say too often). When Scales mentioned that one of their original compositions was influenced by Mahavishnu Orchestra and Muddy Waters, I was probably the only one who actually knew who he was talking about, and in a way I found that kind of sad. (For some reason Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever have been mostly forgotten and I think that’s fucking shameful. But that’s another issue for another time.) On a certain level, I wasn’t completely convinced that the audience actually got them or their sound – you would be amazed by the lack of sophistication that occurs at live shows across the city – but they certainly won me over. I found myself intrigued by their unique sound and I hope to see them in town sometime soon.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE and SEE PHOTOS HERE: http://thejoyofviolentmovement.tumblr.com/post/8566415853/the-jonathan-scales-fourchestra-and-joe-fletcher-and

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Steel Pannist, Jonathan Scales recently released a new album entitled “Character Farm and Other Short Stories”. Here are a few reviews that have come in…

Kevin Jones with Exclaim.CA wrote:

Admittedly, the idea of a steel pan virtuoso likely conjures up images of a human carnival dynamo setting festivals ablaze with a mesmerizing display of some hot, hot island heat. Thusly hailed pannist Jonathan Scales, however, offers none of this, instead delivering a far more impressive collection of heady, multi-directional jazz soundscapes that bristle as his Fourchestra bandmates flip, slip and slide through the myriad tempo twists and compositional turns that make up Character Farm & Other Short Stories. Scales showcases his dexterity with a searing torrent of par runs on the devious, guitar-tinged “The Longest December,” while the epic tale told on “Complete,” with its double-time jazz opening descending into a tense, cavernous midsection, and the unconventional, shape-shifting “Science Fair Project” offer a scattershot glimpse at the gathered musicians’ fertile minds at work. Through the album’s countless turns, Scales manages to blend in the very particular sound of steel pan seamlessly with everything from a flute, horn and saxophone to the oft-accompanying electric guitar, all while showing off the easily stereotyped instrument in a new light.

See the post here: http://exclaim.ca/Reviews/SoulFunkAndWorld/jonathan_scales_fourchestra-character_farm_other_short_stories

MyJoog.com wrote:

Just in time for Spring Break, we received Jonathan Scales – Character Farm & Other Short Stories. Scales plays the steel pan – an instrument associated with Trinidad & Tobago, but this is nowhere near conventional Island music. I love this CD, particularly “The Trap” which includes fiddler  Casey Driessen. Other guest artists include Jeff Coffin, Yonrico Scott and Kofi Burbridge. “Hallucinations of the Dream Chasers ” is hypnotic while “Muddy Vishnu” gets rockin’. The title track is as close as you get to an Island sound – can’t wait to listen on the beaches in south Florida with a bottle of rhum.

See the review here: http://myjoog.blogspot.com/2011/04/trying-to-find-room-on-ipod.html?spref=tw

Ashley Wilson with the Mountain Times in Boone writes:

To come across a band with a full-time steel pannist is rare. To come across a band with the steel pan as the central instrument is even more rare.

. . .   . . .    . . .  In April 2011, Scales releases his third album “Character Farm and Other Short Stories.”

“Character Farm” is a collection of nine instrumental “stories.” The album is accompanied by a comic book design sleeve. Scales is depicted on the cover as a superhero wielding pansticks. Inside, artist Gregory Keyzer provides graphic interpretations of each song. With Scales’ music being entirely instrumental, the visual aids are a nice touch that may help listeners better understand his vision.

Scales considers his music “jazz fusion.” The steel pan is not traditionally associated with jazz, but he has adapted well to the style. Scales credits innovative banjoist Bela Fleck with inspiring him to disregard the imaginary boundaries placed on instruments.

The members of the Fourchestra, guitarist Duane Simpson, drummer Phill Bronson and bassist Michael Libramento, are excellent at jazz craft and assist Scales in achieving his distinct sound. The lengthy opener, “Jam We Did,” is an excellent example of the camaraderie of the performers, with Scales opening the floor for everyone to have a solo. Another jam on the album, “Complete,” showcases the members’ jazz abilities and serves as proof that the steel pan can indeed be considered a jazz instrument.

Jonathan Scales does not limit himself to a strict jazz regimen. His penchant for experimentation is most obvious in the last two songs of “Character Farm.” The appropriately titled “Science Fair Project” incorporates the flute of Kofi Burbridge, from the Derek Trucks Band. “The Trap,” with guest Casey Driessen, could very well be the first time a fiddler and steel pannist have performed on the same song.

Other guests on “Character Farm” include Dave Matthews Band saxophonist Jeff Coffin and Derek Trucks Band percussionist Yonrico Scott. They join the Fourchestra on “Hallucinations of the Dream Chasers.” The combination of steel pan, African percussion and the saxophone make it the most diverse song of the album.

Scales is promoting “Muddy Vishnu” as the first single from “Character Farm.” The title is a cross between Muddy Waters and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, a 1970s jazz fusion group. Verging on urban hip-hop territory, it furthers the idea that for Scales, the steel pan has no bounds. He has released a colorful video online, which is well worth checking out.

“Character Farm” solidifies Jonathan Scales’ place as one of western North Carolina’s most innovative and creative artists. Not only as a performer, but as the composer of all the music on the album, Scales is a groundbreaker.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www2.mountaintimes.com/entertainment_focus/Jonathan_Scales_Fourchestra_id_003326

To find out more about Jonathan Scales and get the album, visit: www.JonScales.com

Live footage from the Album Release show in Asheville:


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Check out this in depth Q & A interview with Jonathan Scales by the CAISO SteelBand: Meet Jonathan Scales, SteelPan Jazz Rock Star.  To read the full article please click on the link.

Jonscales

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In a Q&A interview with Mike King Jr, Jonathan Scales, is living proof that there is gold in them hills of North Carolina. Mr. Scales breaks down how he was introduced to the SteelPan, describes his “Fourchestra”, and talks about making the 1st Music Video featuring a SteelPannist.

Mike King Jr:How did you become interested in the SteelPans & how long have you been playing?
Jon Scales: I started playing pan my freshman year of college (August 2002). I went to Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. There is a great steel pan program there, ran by Dr. Scott Meister, called the Steely Pan Steel Band.  No one expects that in the mountains of North Carolina! I entered the school to study music composition & theory and played saxophone as my main instrument. The steel band at the school has an open audition every year and I made the cut!  From there, I was hooked. I spent a lot more time in the panyard than practicing for my saxophone lessons.
MKJ: What was the inspiration in making the video for “Muddy Vishnu”? Is this the 1st high quality video featuring a SteelPan Musician? Who directed the video?

JS: Well, first, the title “Muddy Vishnu” comes from a stylistic mix between the blues legend Muddy Waters and the ’70s jazz/rock fusion band Mahavishnu Orchestra.  It was fun to write.  As far as the inspiration for MAKING the video…I’ll have to say i’m influence equally from pop culture as well as jazz & classical composition; the video is definitely my pop culture influence showing up! I have this crazy idea that I can somehow be a SteelPan Jazz Rock Star! I thought the video would also be a good way to expose people to my work in the same way that major label artists release videos when they come out with a new album.  As far as the 1st…man I don’t know about that!  I’m not trying to make any bold claims.

The video was directed by Daniel Judson. (See his work at danieljudson.com) Check out “Muddy Vishnu” here:

MKJ: What is the inspriration for your latest project, “Character Farm & other Short Stories”?

JS: My friend Roy “Futureman” Wooten (Grammy-award winning percussionist for Bela Fleck) had some long talks to me about “Long Form”…which is just the idea of making one grand musical statement as opposed to just throwing together a collection of songs.  Now i’m not saying that “Character Farm” is the perfect example of what he meant, but it was my attempt to get closer to that concept.  The 9 original tunes are packaged together as a group of short stories that each have an illustration in the liner notes to help the audience get a better idea of what i’m thinking in my mind about each piece.  So it kinda comes together like a comic book…but instead of reading words with each picture, there is music.  Digital downloads won’t do it justice!  The packaging helps bring the music to life.

. . .   . . .   . . .
MKJ: How would you describe your music arrangement style?

JS: That’s a tough one!  Well…a lot of people find my music to be complicated or complex.  I think I use a lot of “advanced” rhythmic ideas that people don’t hear on a daily basis.  I mess around a lot with different time signatures and polyrhythmic phrasing.  Also I steer slightly away from traditional harmonic and melodic ideas.  So I guess you could say I try to take opposing and contrasting harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic ideas, mix ’em together and really focus on how to make that work on the SteelPans with my band backing me up.  My writing background is heavily influenced by 20th century modern classical composers like John Cage, Igor Stravinsky and Charles Ives; who were all known for writing some crazy “out there” types of music!  I use a lot of their techniques, but writing on top of groove-based drums really ties it together and makes it assessable.

For more information on Jon Scales Fourchestra: Music, Tour and CD’s visit his official site at:  Jon Scales

TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE WITH SEVERAL MORE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, VISIT: http://www.caisosteelband.com/2011/04/jonathan-scales-steelpan-jazz-rock-star-1.html

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Extract 17. Photo by Rob Gardner

Stop. Listen. Dynamic changes happen simultaneously with nuanced timbre shifts, while the notes, chords, and poly-rhythms travel past you. Extract 17 is not a jam band, or math rock or even a hybrid of anything. They are four musicians of remarkable talent, pushing each other and themselves to make something wonderful. Equal parts Mahavishnu Orchestra, Strength In Numbers and original innovation, Extract 17 plays a palate of original electric instrumental compositions focused on both the spirit of adventure and the beauty of arrangement. You can see them live for *FREE* every Tuesday in March at Modaddy’s Bar in Asheville.

In the past year, the four musicians that comprise Extract 17, Jay Sanders, Bill Cardine, Andy Pond and Ian Cunningham, have been composing, arranging, and experimenting with a variety of provocative new sounds. Their repertoire features tunes written by each member of the group and a select list of covers from some of their biggest influences including Bill Frisell, MMW, and Hank Williams.

As a bass player, what characterizes Jay Sanders‘ music is an overwhelming sense of space, time and genre. His compositions tend towards the melodic and sublime while improvisations can go from the most peaceful melody to full-scale free jazz and noise music. Attention to style and unique versatility are the hallmarks of his playing. Sanders is best known for his work with Acoustic Syndicate and Donna The Buffalo.

Bill Cardine brings his innate sense of musicianship, melody and texture with his muse instrument of choice, the slide guitar. Jerry Douglas has said of Cardine “I couldn’t have picked a better example for them of where the Dobro is now or what the possibilities are with the instrument.” His innovative work on the Dobro, Moog Slide Guitar, Chaturangui, Weissenborn and Electric Steel guitars has lead him as both a performer and educator around the world, as well as to some of our country’s most revered venues and major festivals. Internationally, Cardine is known for his work with the Biscuit Burners; he is also the newest member of Acoustic Syndicate.

Andy Pond is one of the most exciting progressive-acoustic banjoists on the scene today: melodic and tasteful with a raw edge of improvisation. His approach to the banjo is all encompassing and includes Middle eastern/Balkan flavours, newgrass and dixieland grooves as well as funky dance beats. For almost two decades, Pond has been the driving force behind the Snake Oil Medicine Show, is half of the Pond Brothers, and the lead of CX1.

Ian Cunningham‘s drumming boldly combines the best parts of rock, jazz, African and things completely different and unknown into a powerful beat that is the perfect landscape for Extract 17. Cunningham is a formidable drummer and presence in the Asheville music scene; and as the pulsating foundation for UNC Asheville’s African Dance and Drumming classes, he excels at bridging the worlds of music.

In September of 2010, Sanders, Cardine and Pond performed a series of shows with the legendary Jeff Sipe on drums including memorable performances at the LAAFF Festival, Pisgah Brewing’s beautiful outdoor stage, the Pour House in Charleston, and Asheville’s juke-joint MoDaddy’s. 2011 finds the quartet breaking ground in new directions with the addition of Ian Cunningham on drums. This new lineup will debut as part of MoDaddy’s monthly residency series, playing every Tuesday in March. The shows are all free and begin around 9:30. Enjoy being carried away into a vast soundscape of innovative instrumental music.

Show details at a Glance:

Extract 17
Sanders-Cardine-Pond-Cunningham
Tuesdays in March
MoDaddys

9:30pm
*FREE SHOWS*
828-258-1550
77-B Biltmore Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801
www.modaddysbar.com

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