Jonathan Scales is the current world leader steel pannist and each of his albums are great listens end to end. He follows his predecessor pannists Dave Samuels (Spyro Gyra), Andy Narell (Caribbean Jazz Project), and Robert Greenidge (Jimmy Buffet) in bringing the island sound to the world jazz scene.
In his own words, RE-POTTED arose and “began production shortly after relocating to NYC from North Carolina, just months before the pandemic, and this conceptual album explores what it means to ‘uproot & replant’ into a more expansive yet more challenging environment.”
In addition to the young lions Maison Guidry on drums and E’Lon JD on bass, Scales has brought in a veritable all-star team for each song including horns, strings and vocals. It’s a great mix and a fun run through Track by Track.
Track By Track
Same Seeds has a dramatic opening on pans and djembe from Jonathan and Weedie along with the Adam L. As Himself lyrics. The pairing of the pans and piano from Adam gives an extra flowing feel. E’Lon’s bass is a force as always. The horns, including Jacob Rodriguez on tenor, Sam Greenfield (Cory Wong) on flute and Mike ‘Maz’ Maher (Snarky Puppy) on trumpet, while subtle, add a rich texture to the melody. Overall a great opener.
Obispo is immediately distinctive with the guitar opening from Marcus Machado that segues in Jonathan’s stairstep panning with E’Lon’s bass in tow. Machado comes back with a sweet refrain. Midway Olivia K and Sharina Louise join on voice in perfect unison with the pans, to great effect. It’s reminiscent of Flora Purim for me, such a great feel. Machado, E’Lon and Maison carry the tune out to the close — nice!
Stencil is a showcase for the core three – Jonathan, E’Lon and Maison – fast, melodic and precise with each a percussive force. On the back half, Franco Vittore, enters on guitar for some added oompf, powering along with the trio for a stellar ending.
Box In The Sky features Agustin Uriburu on cello keeping pace with E’Lon right from the start. Jonathan’s playing is at the fore, but each player comes through crystal clear. Agustin who co-wrote the tune with Jonathan, has a lead section in the middle. The YouTube series ‘Scales & Friend’ was launched during the pandemic with Jonathan squaring off with a multitude of artists including Augustin. It built his repertoire and the growth really shows throughout the album.
Trickle ‘Round has Jonathan with a playful opening along with the core E’Lon and Maison. It always feels like the three are walking down the street having a nice conversation, together but with different points of view. Jonathan has an invigorating break at the back half and is joined along the way by Franco Vittore on guitar once again.
This Is The Way Out is a tour de force for E’Lon with some slick found-object percussion beats from Jonathan. Jonathan plays some fast panning that merges with E’Lon and Maison through most of the song. It’s a nice Caribbean jazz riff up to the last 30 seconds when a surprise horn mix provided by Wayne Tucker (trumpet), Adam Dotson (trombone), and John Altieri (tuba) close it out.
Ocean Church is the only tune with just the core three players but it lacks nothing for it. After playing together for several years, Jonathan, E’Lon and Maison are as solid as it gets. This one is has a beautiful pan melody with the bass and drum accompaniment fast paced, precise and supportive. The slowdown at the end with Maison’s gong-like cymbal swirl is fantastic.
Mizma has the largest instrumentation on the album including the three horns on This Is The Way Out plus Itai Kriss (flute), Agustin Uriburu (cello), Matt Aronoff (upright bass and Weedie Braimah (djembe). It starts with a repeat low intonation from Jonathan and E’Lon and a light touch from Maison and Weedie. It evolves into a bouncy rhythm with a brief solo from Itai. The horns take the midsection joined by the strings and the full orchestral sound makes this one of my favorites on the album, a great composition. It segues at the end back to the core trio + Weedie for the fade out.
The World Runs on Harnessed Chaos again has the core trio plus Ely Sahar with NYC street sounds, perhaps the inspiration for the title. Definitely enjoy the children playing, car horns and other ambient noise before Jonathan takes over. The song imparts the usual effervescence I get from this group, a lot of neurons firing at once, just a pleasure to take in. It’s hard to describe the musical conversation that they have among them – just take a listen.
Gravitropism kicks off with E’Lon and Maison a superpower rhythm duo with Jonathan following. The song also features Simon Thomas George on piano and keys plus Adam L. As Himself rhyming and Sharina Louise with background chants and Agustin Uriburu on cello. It clearly caps off the album with a more New York sound, demonstrating the re-potting of its composer and his sound. Well done all around.
Jonathan Scales Fourchestra
Jonathan Scales – Steel Pans + Found-Object Percussion (This Is The Way Out!)
Maison Guidry – Drums
E’Lon JD – Bass
Adam L. As Himself – Lyricist (Same Seeds, Gravitropism) + Piano (Same Seeds)
Simon Thomas George – Piano + Keyboards (Gravitropism)
Jay White – Voice (Same Seeds)
Nell Ledbetter – Voice (Same Seeds)
Olivia K – Voice (Obispo)
Sharina Louise – Voice (Obispo, Gravitropism)
Jacob Rodriguez – Tenor Sax (Same Seeds)
Sam Greenfield – Flute (Same Seeds)
Itai Kriss – Flute (Mizma)
Mike Maz Maher – Trumpet (Same Seeds)
Wayne Tucker – Trumpet (This Is The Way Out!, Mizma)
Adam Dotson – Trombone (This Is The Way Out!, Mizma)
John Altieri – Tuba (This Is The Way Out!, Mizma)
Imani Coppola – Violin (Same Seeds)
Agustin Uriburu – Cello (Box In The Sky, Mizma, Gravitropism)
Matt Aronoff – Upright Bass (Mizma)
Weedie Braimah – Djembe (Same Seeds, Mizma)
Marcus Machado – Guitar (Obispo)
Franco Vittore – Guitar (Stencil, Trickle ‘Round)
Ely Sahar – NYC Street Audio Captures (The World Runs on Harnessed Chaos)