Print this Page

World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

Sonic Steel

By Jeff Tamarkin
Published January 14, 2008

Pieces of Pan
Sonic Steel

The steel pans (aka steel drums) may always be inexorably linked with Trinidad and Tobago, but in recent years the instrument has taken off in a big way outside of its birthplace, spawning steel bands in North America, Europe and elsewhere. Copenhagen’s Sonic Steel is all about expanding the pans’ capabilities. On Pieces Of Pan, the sextet—four pan players, bass and drums—apply the sound to music as diverse as Jobim’s “Girl From Ipanema” and Thelonious Monk’s “In Walked Bud.” Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca” wastes no time getting funky, and it’s not long before the pan players are executing intricate rhythmic shifts. Mighty Sparrow’s “May May” may be a more traditional pick for a Caribbean-influenced album, but any rough soca edges are sanded down as the musicians trade riffs seamlessly. Melody is king here, regardless of the genre being transformed, and there’s soothe in Sonic Steel’s smooth on every track.