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Jazz@ the Pan Cafe Vol.1 (maiden voyage) by The Pan Cafe Quartet

I admit I do not much care for steel pan, I have respect for it as an art form, as a style of music, and for the musicians who perform it,but to me and my exposure of the pan always seemed a bit repetitious, and a too "islandy" which is fine and dandy if your in Costa Rica with a rum punch in your hand and some sand between your toes. The only problem with that is that I live in northeast Ohio and do not get down to Costa Rica as much as I would like. Actually I put off reviewing this record because of how I feel about pan music, well you know what I was wrong and I am not afraid to say it. I am still not a big fan of the genre,but these guys are at the top of their game, they created something really original by simply combining a few styles that I never really heard together before. New Age jazz,a touch of Be-bop (and straight), modern, and of course centering around the steel pan, definitely a new sound.

The tracks on this 2005 release are basically a who's who of traditional jazz recordings.You have cuts like Birds' "Donna Lee","Song for my father", by Horace Silver, the title track "Maiden Voyage" from Herbie Hancock, and then one of my favorite selections on the album "Giant Steps", and I think you know who that is by, if not do some research and find out. As some of these song titles may sound familiar I can assure you that they will not be simple renditions like you may have heard before, it will be a new sound.

The personal tends to be as diverse as the music itself,no surprise there I guess. Jzules Maharaj the pianist, producer, and songwriter is a London based musician influenced strongly by jazz and reggae. He has also produced tracks for recognizable drum and bass labels. Maharajah has done some work in the performing arts and is currently studying a BA jazz degree. Alex Wheeler born in Trinidad and influenced by calypso,samba,and reggae is the bands drum programmer, and engineer.Do not let the fact that they have a drum programmer turn you off it is actually one the things that make them so unique. Kevin Dunford plays fender bass, and double bass and extremely well I might add.He is known as a first rate session player performing everything from soul,R&B,rock,and jazz.Dave Vine the creator,and brainchild of the group is the steel pianist, and arranger. He started his career with conventional steel bands in the U.K. he has performed as a soloist and also with top U.K. jazz bands his influences range widely from calypso, reggae, R&B, classical jazz, and Latin.

So as I write this review on February 5th in northeast Ohio it is somewhere around 0 degrees outside with a - 20 wind chill factor I would like to thank the Pan Cafe Quartet for two reasons. First for turning me on to a new style of music that I never gave much of a chance to in the past, and secondly for warming me up a bit.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: The Pan Cafe Quartet
  • CD Title: Jazz@ the Pan Cafe Vol.1 (maiden voyage)
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Pan Cafe Recordings
  • Rating: Three Stars
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