By Bobby Reed | Published February 2017
Just as Béla Fleck has done for the banjo and Laurie Anderson has done for the violin, steel pan player Victor Provost showcases his main instrument in contexts that are different from the one in which many listeners were first introduced to it. Although there are definitely Caribbean influences on Bright Eyes, Provost (who grew up on St. John in the Virgin Islands) is also deeply devoted to jazz. The result is a great jazz album that happens to feature steel pan—as opposed to a great steel pan album that incorporates jazz. Provost and his band—Alex Brown (piano), Zach Brown (bass) and Billy Williams Jr. (drums)—get help from percussionist Paulo Stagnaro on six of the 11 cuts. Other guest contributors include Paquito D’Rivera (alto saxophone), Ron Blake (soprano saxophone), Tedd Baker (tenor saxophone), Joe Locke (vibraphone), Etienne Charles (trumpet) and John Lee (guitar). On the title track, Provost offers the same elegant mixture of hypnotic speed and seductive melodicism on steel pan that Locke has developed on vibraphone; the combination of the two instruments here is dazzling. The original tune “Twenty” illustrates the leader’s mastery of a slow tempo, while a fiery rendition of Tom Glovier’s “La Casa De Fiesta” becomes a high-octane blowing session for Provost, Alex Brown, Blake and Charles. We can’t wait to hear what Provost does next.