top of page

Steel Pan Mechanics and Ensemble Playing with Leon Foster Thomas

Sunday 19th Nov 2023

Venue: Frankopan Hall, Jesus College

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


Time: 11:00am - 2:00pm

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



This masterclass is geared towards improving individual steelpan playing ability and technique as well as approaches to ensemble performance. Mechanics are methods on sticking and physical posture, resulting in a better playing posture more suitable and comfortable for the player. Ensemble Playing approaches focuses on improved sound and balance of each instrument within the ensemble and a greater understanding of each instrument’s role in the piece/s performed resulting in the ensemble’s overall performance.

“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)



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.

bottom of page