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Posts Tagged ‘Muddy Vishnu’

New Lingua Musica Episode: Erin Scholze from Dreamspider Publicity talks with Jonathan Scales Fourchestra at The Musicians Workshop on Merrimon Ave. in Asheville, NC in July 2011. Daniel Judson filmed and edited this video which is copyright Luminescence LLC 2011 and may be used as long as proper credit is given.
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Jonathan Scales has been called a “…rising star of the steel drums…” by Traps Magazine and “The Real Deal” by Pan on the Net and as having “A Thelonius Monk-like attitude with a Mozart creativity that works.” Premier Steel Pan magazine, When Steel Talks states , “At the end of the day, Scales is going to be a major play in rewriting the books on steelpan music outside of the box.”

In this episode of Lingua Musica, Jonathan Scales discusses how he came about his style of Steel Pan. Also hear more about his new album, Character Farm & Other Short Stories, which is a 45-minute dive deeper into the compositionally-twisted work. There are nine original instrumental “stories” on the album which transport listeners from the primal Jam We Did to the lush Hallucinations of the Dream Chasers. The title track Character Farm brings the audience into a chilled, ‘worldly’ ride after the frantically emotional The Longest December. Guest appearance on the record include Jeff Coffin (of Dave Matthews Band / Bela Fleck & the Flecktones), Yonrico Scott and Kofi Burbridge (of Derek Trucks Band fame) and the dazzling work of fiddle virtuoso Casey Driessen.  Also, you will meet the cast of Characters that make up the Fourchestra: classically trained composer turned steel pan maestro and front man of the Fourchestra, Jonathan Scales, is heavily influenced by the complexity of banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck to the hustle of Jay-Z. Gritty blues guitarist, Duane Simpson, and fusion-chops bassist, Cody Wright, provide the harmonic support for Scales’ sound; while jazz/hip-hop drummer, Phill Bronson, drives the time-shifting, modern grooves. 

Scales, along with fimmaker Daniel Judson, produced an insightful Music Video for the song Muddy Vishnu; snippets of the music video are shown in the interview. Watching Muddy Vishnu is “almost like a Being John Malkovich set inside Scales’ own world of found rhythms, visions, colors, friends, inspirations and rare silence,” writes Asheville’s Mountain Xpress.

In this episode of Lingua Musica, Scales’s also talks about the album’s comic book-inspired images, designed by Gregory Keyzer, that tie together the musical fusion of his Fourchestra. “There’s a different illustration for every song,” Scales says in an interview with Robin Tolleson in Bold Life. “It’s cool because you can kind of put a visual image with each piece. The album is packaged like a book of short stories, but there’s an overlying theme. The sonic tapestry, mixed with the congruent artwork, really ties the whole thing together. The pictures help people make their judgments about what it’s about and how they feel about it. It’s not complete long form, but it’s closer.”

Character Farm, along with a glossy 19 x 13 poster depicting the custom designed comic book graphics illustrating each song are available at www.jonscales.com.

This video was brought to you by Lingua Musica: Where Music is the Universal Language…


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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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Artwork by Gregory Keyzer

I am excited to announce Asheville’s Steel-Pannist Jonathan Scales Fourchestra is touring around their CD release with a stops in Pensacola; New Orleans; Austin; Starksville, MS; Atlanta; and Hot Springs, NC! The new album is called “Character Farm & Other Short Stories” and features guest appearances by Jeff Coffin (of Dave Matthews Band/Bela Fleck & the Flecktones), Yonrico Scott & Kofi Burbridge (of Derek Trucks Band), and fiddle virtuoso Casey Driessen.

Scales’ created a wonderful  Music Video for the song “Muddy Vishnu” from the album, which is posted below. The album is also available to purchase on www.jonscales.com along with fun new merch including a glossy 19 x 13 poster depicting above with the custom designed comic book graphics illustrating each song with artwork by Gregory Keyzer.

Jonathan Scales Fourchestra April Tour Dates

Friday, April 22
Vinyl Music Hall
Opening for Soul Rebels Brass Band and Honey Island Swamp Band
Pensacola, FL

Saturday, April 23rd
12 Bar
New Orleans, LA

Sunday and Monday, April 24th & 25th
McCallum Theater (at McCallum High School)
Austin, TX

Tuesday, April 26th
Dave’s Dark Horse Tavern
Starkville, MS

Thursday, April 28
The Five Spot
w/ Jonathan Lloyd’s Rocksteady Review opening the show
Atlanta, GA

Saturday, April 30
French Broad River Festival
Hot Springs, NC

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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.

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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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Music Video Asheville 2011 was produced by  FoAM (The Future of Asheville Music) and this year was sponsored by Music Allies as  part of HATCH. Echo Mountain Recording and the Media Arts Project were also major sponsors of this year’s event which was held at the Fine Arts Theatre in downtown. You can also check out a more complete playlist at http://www.youtube.com/user/Dreamspiderweb#grid/user/C47697E0230DC2DD.

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The night was a big success and with-out further ado the winners are:

Placing 1st, winning both the Best of MVA Music Allies Judges Choice Award AND the Crowd Favorite is Kovacs and the Polar Bear, “Skeleton Crew” directed by Joe Chang with the Paper Picture Company:

The Runner-Up for the Best of MVA Music Allies Judges award, winning a free day of studio time in Echo Mountain Recording, is Secret Agent 23 Skidoo with “Chase the Rain” directed by Daniel Judson:

The Crowd Favorite Runner-up is Jonathan Scales “Muddy Vishnu” directed by Daniel Judson:

The FOAM Core also chose three honorable mentions going to:

Jar-E “Plot” directed by Steven Tingle:

Stephanie’s Id “Documentary” directed by Paul Chelmis

Juan Holiday “Seal it Tight” directed by Kurt Mann:

Groundbreaking Mentor and Featured Artists for MVA 2011 is Ben Lovett.

Lovett showed three videos and spoke about the films that he has been making for his upcoming album debut, Highway Collection.  Viral video explosion of their first single, “Eye Of The Storm,” directed by Chris Alender with Soapbox Films, is a cinematic gem that has gobbled up a million views in 4 weeks on the web, and it’s follow-up, the foot-stomping, barn burner single, “Heart Attack,” directed by David Bragg with Flying Pig Studios.

Lovett also debuted their newest video “The Fear” directed by David Bruckner with Wasteland Pictures:

To see the playlist for Music Video Asheville 2011 visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/Dreamspiderweb#grid/user/C47697E0230DC2DD

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Jonathan Scales had an amazing album release event this past weekend in Asheville at the Emerald Lounge.  The new album, Character farm and Other Short Stories, is now available on his website and i-tunes. Bold Life did a great interview with Jonathan Scales and below are some excerpts:

Building Character

BY ROBIN TOLLESON in Bold Life www.boldlife.com

For his third album, Character Farm And Other Short Stories, steel drumming frontman Jonathan Scales wanted to imitate long form. “Back in the day the great composers like Wagner wrote complete works from top to bottom as opposed to just a bunch of songs mixed together,” he says. “An epic saga that takes you through all the movements.”

To help tie together the musical fusion of his Fourchestra, Scales called upon the comic book-inspired artwork of Gregory Keyzer. “There’s a different illustration for every song,” Scales says. “It’s cool because you can kind of put a visual image with each piece. The album is packaged like a book of short stories, but there’s an overlying theme. The sonic tapestry, mixed with the congruent artwork, really ties the whole thing together. The pictures help people make their judgments about what it’s about and how they feel about it. It’s not complete long form, but it’s closer.”

. . .    . . .    . . .

“Every time I put out a CD I want to get further along,” Scales says. “It takes a lot of planning to have a successful release. You work hard on the music, and you want people to hear it, so that’s when you have to kick in on the other side and try to get things rolling.” Scales planned a pre-release campaign to build some momentum. In February he released a behind-the-scenes video with footage from the recording session. And last month he released a full-length music video of his song “Muddy Vishnu.” “I’m trying to get people interested,” he says.

The Fourchestra recorded Character Farm at Diana Wortham Theatre in Asheville, in the fashion of classic jazz records. “We all played together,” Scales says. “We got enough separation that we could get some real good sounds, so it comes off like a studio album with a lot of energy, as a mixture between a live recording and a studio album, kind of like the best of both worlds. That was (sound engineer) Michael Hynes’ approach to the thing.

Character Farm features the churning 6/8 “Jam We Did,” the slightly-island strut of “Science Fair Project,” the breakneck steel-drum’n’bass of “The Longest December,” and “Muddy Vishnu,” a dynamic tune filled with plot twists reminiscent of The Flecktones’ classic “Sinister Minister.”

“This set has my same style, as far as some metric complexities and style changes. Different uses of rhythms and timbres and harmonies,” Scales explains. The music is solid, he says, because the lineup was solid. “My other two albums had streams of different people. This album is definitely more focused.”

Guitarist Duane Simpson, drummer Phill Bronson, and bassist Michael Libramento are the main backing cast on the album, with four guests, saxophonist Jeff Coffin, flutist Kofi Burbridge, percussionist Yonrico Scott, and fiddler Casey Driessen.

“Overall it has a pretty edgy sound,” Scales says. “It has highs and lows as far as dynamics and styles. ‘Muddy Vishnu’ is definitely on the more rockin’ side — my take on a mix between Muddy Waters and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. I wanted it to be a subtle thing to where if you understand or if you’ve never heard them, it’s not a big deal and you’ll still enjoy the song.”

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READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE and find out more about Jonathan’s history and the rest of the Fourchestra:  http://www.boldlife.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A18113

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Compositionally-twisted work of steel pannist Jonathan Scales “Character Farm & Other Short Stories” includes nine original instrumental “stories” and features guests Jeff Coffin, Kofi Burbridge, Yonrico Scott, and Casey Driessen. The cast of Characters hold this mind-bending concoction together with jazz edge and classical sensibility along with custom designed comic book graphics illustrating each song for the album artwork…


Asheville, NC- March 31, 2011–  The steel pan, an amazing musical discovery born in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad & Tobago, is often times associated with sandy beaches, tropical climates, and cruise ships: that’s not exactly what you get at a show by the jazz-fusion quartet, Jonathan Scales Fourchestra. Modern Drummer Magazine recognizes, “… Jonathan Scales makes the pans fit in unconventional musical spaces…” and Jazz Times goes on to state that Scales’ brings forth a “new vitality to the traditional Caribbean instrument… picking up where Othello Molineaux left off 20 years ago with Jaco Pastorius.”

Here you have a classically trained composer turned steel pan maestro and front man of the Fourchestra, Jonathan Scales, heavily influenced by the complexity of banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck to the hustle of Jay-Z. Gritty blues guitarist, Duane Simpson, and fusion-chops bassist, Cody Wright, provide the harmonic support for Scales’ sound, while jazz/hip-hop drummer, Phill Bronson, drives the time-shifting, modern grooves. The cast of Characters hold this mind-bending concoction together with jazz edge and classical sensibility.

As an immediate release by Le’Rue Records, the 3rd installment in the Jonathan Scales’ musical saga, Character Farm & Other Short Stories, is a 45-minute dive deeper into the compositionally-twisted work of steel pannist Jonathan Scales.  The nine original instrumental “stories” on the album take listeners from the primal Jam We Did to the lush Hallucinations of the Dream Chasers. The title track Character Farm takes the audience into a chilled, ‘worldly’ ride after the frantically emotional The Longest December. Guest appearance on the record include Jeff Coffin (of Dave Matthews Band / Bela Fleck & the Flecktones), Yonrico Scott and Kofi Burbridge (of Derek Trucks Band fame) and the dazzling work of fiddle virtuoso Casey Driessen.

Jonathan Scales has also been busy creating a NEW Music Video for the song Muddy Vishnu from the album which is available to watch on www.jonscales.com. Scales’ has a unique approach to his album artwork with custom designed comic book graphics illustrating each song with artwork by Gregory Keyzer. He’s also made available a glossy 19 x 13 poster with the comic graphic images.

Steel pannist and virtuoso composer, Jonathan Scales, formed his ‘Fourchestra’ in 2007 as a means to deliver his musically complex, yet accessible ideas to anyone willing to listen. Since then, Scales has released two well received, full-length works, 2007’s One-Track Mind and 2008’s Plot/Scheme which features the likes of Jeff Coffin, Joseph Wooten (of Steve Miller Band), and Jeff Sipe (of Aquarium Rescue Unit). 2011 will usher in Character Farm & Other Short Stories.  Scales’ versatility and innovative nature have allowed him to play along with with acts like The Wooten Brothers Band, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, The Duhks, Everyone Orchestra, Toubab Krewe, Ben Sollee, Casey Dreissen, and Futureman.

Scales has been called a “…rising star of the steel drums…” by Traps Magazine, while Pan on the Net refers to him as “the Real Deal” and having “A Thelonius Monk-like attitude with a Mozart creativity that works.”  When Steel Talks sums it up with, “At the end of the day, Scales is going to be a major play in rewriting the books on steelpan music outside of the box.” With Character Farm, Scales has pushed the limits of conventional steel-pan yet again.

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