written by Tom Baggott
You’ve heard this before, but the whimsically named Jonathan Scales Fourchestra is really tough to describe. Veering from in-your-face, jaw dropping chops and passion, to those quiet moments when the background noise disappears and you hold your breath to take in a soundscape of solitude, the power trio of electric bass (E'Lon JD), drums (Maison Guidry), and steel pans (Jonathan Scales) combines elements of jazz, classical, and progressive rock, peppered with Latin rhythms and soulful outbursts of funk. From club and festival stages across North America and Europe, and tours of Africa, Southeast and Central Asia as a Cultural Ambassador for the US Department of State, to their NPR Tiny Desk Concert featuring Béla Fleck, the Fourchestra’s live shows make even the most jaded listeners forget where they are… even if just for a precious moment.
This may seem an odd thing to say, but on the verge of releasing their eighth studio recording, Jonathan Scales Fourchestra is only now truly embracing their identity as a group. For many years, Jonathan’s live band was a fluid lineup of top-notch musicians, and even included an “all-star” version with bassist MonoNeon (Prince, Nas), drummer Sput Searight (Snarky Puppy, Snoop Dogg) and percussionist Weedie Braimah (Trombone Shorty, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah), as well as a number of other marquee players. Now, however, the Fourchestra is a decidedly indivisible band, and Jonathan is writing for the trio, not just the pans.