Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Jonathan Scales: Panning for Jazz

Scales forges new improvisational territory with steel pans

If you’ve spent even a little time navigating New York’s MTA system, then you’ve likely seen steel-pan drummers on subway platforms entertaining listeners with spirited interpretations of pop tunes. Pans are much less common in jazz, but a few performers have made them their main instrument, including Andy Narell, Victor Provost, and a relative newcomer named Jonathan Scales.

Among the most innovative steel-pan players in any style, Scales recently released the album PILLAR with his Fourchestra, featuring a selection of equally original guests, like banjoist Béla Fleck and bassist Victor Wooten. “Though I play jazz on the steel pan, it’s a folk instrument at heart—an instrument of the people,” Scales says.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published