Nothing says U.S. of A. like Jazz – it’s got a ballsy, bad-ass attitude, an overly inflated ego, and it just doesn’t follow any of the rules reserved for ‘standard’ music.  It’s just plain ol’ American stank in all its obnoxious glory. Leave it to a  Trinidadian to go and ‘fass’ and add their own brand  of  Caribbean color to Jazz’s funky attitude, via the steel pan. Brand New Mischief, the second album from pannist Leon Foster Thomas is a multi-dimensional jazz album with his amazing pan interpretations as the focal point.

Foster’s heartfelt performance on the track “Annecy” is one of the albums stand outs. Named for his baby daughter, “Annecy” is a beautifully crafted piece that starts off with the steel pan almost singing a lullaby at the beginning, complimented by a smooth piano and bass rift and very light percussion, that gradually gaining a joyful momentum and intensity toward the end.

The bass-heavy low down groove of the title track infuses a bit of American Funk and Rhythm and Blues, which contrasts beautifully with high-pitched clinking of the steel pan. It’s fascinating how much Foster’s steel pan on this track sounds like a lead singer, with Allen Paul’s piano performance serving as back-up vocals.

Foster’s Caribbean roots come out on “Baby Blue,” a fusion of Latin Jazz and Caribbean folk that is one of the album’s more colorful and upbeat compositions.

Another one of Brand New Mischief‘s best tracks, the popular “Soul Window” is very new age,with mellow instrumentation. The high pitched steel pan that sounds like neat little ice chips falling over the ultra-smooth melody.

Brand New Mischief is stellar, but brief. The albums seven tracks are slightly over a half-hour long in total. But there is something to be said about being short and to the point, no long talking – it’s very American, in a bluntly Caribbean way.

– Ms. Raine.