Live Concert Photography: Jonathan Scales Fourchestra at Berlin Under A 2/7/20
Currently based here in New York Jonathan Scales is arguably one of the most innovative and forward-thinking steel pannists on the planet — and throughout his career, he has developed a reparation for challenging and redefining expectations of his instrument. While most people will immediately associate steel pan with familiar and tired cliches — cruise ships and tropical resorts, Scales’ steel pan playing expands the sonic palette, mimicking the role of horns, vibraphone or marimba without mischievously complex yet paradoxically accessible, almost danceable compositions.
Scales is best known for leading his whimsically named modern jazz trio Jonathan Scales Fourchestra. Featuring a fluid and constantly evolving series of musicians, the project has included an All-Star version with MonoNeon (bass), who has played with Prince and Ghost Note; Robert “Sput” Searight, who’s played with Snarky Puppy and Snoop Dogg; and Weddie Braimah (percussion), who has played with Trombone Shorty and Nth Power, along with an eclectic array of top-notch players. Throughout all of these changes, Scales has demonstrated perseverance and persistence, a topic that he presented in a TED Talk, while continuing to write, record and tour across North America, the European Union, Central America and the Caribbean. Building upon a growing profile, the now-New York-based JOVM mainstay was chosen — out of 300 finalists — to represent the US as a Department of State musical ambassador for a four week tour of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Indonesia in early 2017.
Scales’ latest effort with the Fourchesta, his sixth album and fourth on Ropeadope Records, PILLAR serves as an introduction to the project’s newest lineup — E’Lon JD (bass) and Maison Guidry (drums), who hold their own in the company of a collection of superstar guests including Victor Wooten (bass), Oteil Burbridge (bass), MonoNeon, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (trumpet), Jeff Coffin (saxophone), Shaun Martin (keys), Weedie Braimah (percussion) and Bela Fleck (banjo).
Last week, Scales, E’Lon JD and Guidry played an early set primarily centered around their latest effort at Berlin Under A. Check out photos from the show below.