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Casey Blake I take5 Correspondent • published February 12, 2010 12:15 am

Asheville Citizen Times- Take 5

www.citizen-times.com

The Jonathan Scales Fourchestra plays Friday night at Mo Daddy's. The Jonathan Scales Fourchestra plays Friday night at Mo Daddy's. (Jon Leidel/Special to the Citizen-Times)

Where does banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck meet rapper Jay-Z? At the top of Jonathan Scales’ list of musical influences. The Asheville-based musician, heading up the Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, will be bringing the quartet’s innovative steel pan sound to Mo-Daddy’s on Friday.

Scales fell unexpectedly in love with the steel pan, an instrument born in Trinidad and Tobago, while pursuing a degree in musical composition at Appalachian State University. Originally a saxophonist trained in classical composition, Scales found himself more involved with his extracurricular steel pan activities than the instrument he was studying in college. “It just felt more natural to me than my sax,” he said. “My saxophone teacher wasn’t very happy with me, but he’s proud of me now.”

As he should be. Scales has introduced an instrument traditionally designated for Caribbean beaches and cruise ships into a successful jazz-fusion quartet. “Some island music generally has just one vibe that’s about being happy, having good times,” Scales said. “I feel like the music I write has a wider range of emotions and musical elements. I just want to stretch it further.”

Careful to respect the steel pan’s diverse potential, Scales clarified, “Let’s just say you won’t find me on a cruise ship. I appreciate that sound, but it’s just not what I’m about.”

Scales formed the original Fourchestra in 2007, and after several incarnations over the last few years, he has found a group of musicians he hopes to stick with. Scales is sharing the stage with rock ‘n’ roll drummer Ryan Lassiter, blues guitarist Duane Simpson and bassist Shannon Hoover. “I tend to write some pretty complicated music, and these guys can execute it like nobody else can.” Scales said. “They are just phenomenal players. They’re really my dream team of musicians.”

Scales, who has previously shared the stage with acts like The Wooten Brothers Band, Toubab Krewe, Ben Sollee and Futureman, has been touring the East Coast with the Fourchestra for about a year now. He hopes to release a new album with his dream team this fall.

“It will be a much more raw sound without all the production bells and whistles my other albums have had,” said Scales, who has previously released two well-received albums of his own. “This album will be that quartet — all us.”

After playing everywhere from New York to the steel pan birthplace, Trinidad, over the last year, Scales is excited to bring the Fourchestra’s sound back home to Asheville on Friday. “Asheville’s music scene is so receptive to different kinds of music; it makes it possible to really cultivate something original.” Scales said. “It should be a really special show.”

IF YOU GO

Who:
Jonathan Scales Fourchestra with Turbo Pro Project.
When:
10 p.m. Friday.
Where:
Mo Daddy’s, 77 Biltmore Ave., Asheville.
Admission:
$5.
Learn more:
www.jonscales.com

Casey Blake writes about entertainment for take5. E-mail her at cblake@ashevill.gannett.com.

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