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Leon Foster Thomas

Sunday 19th Nov 2023

Venue: Frankopan Hall, Jesus College

Tickets: £18 / £15 (concessions) / £12 (under 25) + booking fee


Doors: 7:00pm

Age recommendation:
Under-14s should be accompanied by an adult.



Leon Foster Thomas (steel pan),

Ebow Mensah "LOX" (drums)

Mirko Scarcia (Bass)

Ben Glasser (guitar)

Sultan Stevenson (piano)

“An engaging composer and imaginative improviser, Thomas fuses melodies with propulsive rhythmic drive.”

“Thomas…. confirms himself as a world-class jazzman and the pan as a legitimate jazz instrument.” - All About Jazz


“Thomas also plays with a flickering lyricism that reflects deep immersion in the music of Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett…”   The Guardian


“Leon Foster Thomas puts steel pans centre stage in Calasanitus and rekindles their original edge and bite.”

A steel pan virtuoso, he is laden with subtle jazz skills and his Miami-based musicians play with fire and finesse.” - Financial Times

A gifted international jazz musician and steel pan virtuoso. His music is a blend of his Caribbean roots with the harmonic and improvisational complexities of jazz, creating a lively and eclectic meld all his own. 


Intimate and honed, his melodic breeze is an emblematic realization of his capabilities that rejoice in the here and now. His music speaks in quiet streams of thought, each ripple extending ahand to pull us upstream to the glorious source. (Blues & Soul)

March 2023 marked the release of his latest album, Calasanitus. Described as a book of songs dedicated to his dear late mother, Hillouise Calasanitus Foster, the album showcases a unique blend of Caribbean influence and spirit evolving from Foster’s Trinidadian heritage, combined with dexterous and innovative jazz complexity. The compositions generate an unmistakable vibe born out of the traditions of the West Indies and seamlessly incorporate the discipline and sensibilities of modernjazz music alongside this. The result is a sound that is beautifully calming and vitally energetic in equal measure. 


“…. this is a tour de force record.”

“The ensemble work is off the chain and the band leader’s ability to carry so much cargo in so fine a mesh of hammered steel is quite simply, a marvel to behold.” - Blues & Soul


“Yes, originals you won't hitherto have known. And yet somehow you believe you do given the way the writing plugs into the feeling of quite expansively arranged jazz dotted by Caribbean sunshine that seems bigger than the relatively small group who have produced these sounds.” - Marlbank




Born in Trinidad, Leon Foster Thomas has proven through his albums and performances that the steel pan has the musical sophistication to be taken as seriously in the jazz universe as the more well-known vibraphone. Winner of the World Steelband Music Festival Soloist and Duet competition of 2002 and 2004, critics laud him as “...masterful with impeccable musicianship” (When Steel Talks); “a benevolent wizard” (VeniceMagazine). Leon has collaborated with legendary artists in the jazz scene and beyond including Hugh Masekela, Randy Brecker, Sammy Figueroa, Vince Mendoza, Dolly Parton, John Beasley, Mino Cinelu, Orphy Robinson, Cyril Neville, Ky-Mani Marley and many more.


He has performed at internationally renowned venues such as New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Adrienne Arsht Center of the Performing Arts in Miami and Moscow’s International House of Music. He also played a significant part in Her Late Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022. Inspired as much by the melodic poetry of the great Keith Jarrett’s piano sound as Trinidad’s celebrated steel pan heritage, Leon has taken the instrument to new heights, giving it a seriously fresh makeover in how it is now viewed across the music world. More than just a Carnival instrument, the chromatically-scaled steel pan has seen, in Leon’s hands, a significant step forward in its perception as an instrument of improvisational artistry and expression.

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