Jonathon Scales: Character Farm and Other Short Stories

Not since Jaco Pastorius’ Word of Mouth big band has steel pans been used in such a creative and unorthodox way. Rather than conjuring up cool tropical breezes and sandy Caribbean beaches, Jonathan Scales goes for more of a high-energy fusion approach on pieces like “Jam We Did,” “Jay Sanders’ Sing-Along” and the hard-hitting, chops-busting “The Longest December.” Other pieces, like “Complete,” the powerhouse “Muddy Vishnu,” “Science Fair Project” (featuring Kofi Burbridge, of Derek Trucks Band fame, on flute) and “The Trap” (showcasing fiddle virtuoso Casey Driessen) would play well on the jam-band circuit, or qualify this crafty quartet as the perfect opening act for Béla Fleck and the Flecktones.