The typical jazz lover doesn’t want to hear “relaxing” as a modifier for his favorite music. The word implies a certain snooze factor, and jazz isn’t about that. Still, there’s something soothing, tranquil and – yes – relaxing about the sound of the steel pans when played with skill.

Leon Foster Thomas is such a person, drawing inevitable comparisons to Andy Narell. Thomas entertains with Brand New Mischief (Leon Foster Thomas Music, 2012), a set of seven original songs. With Thomas are pianist Allen C. Paul, acoustic bassist Kurt Kengstebeck and drummer Ludwig Alfonso.

The title might be a hint at the origins of the steel pan. It was in Trinidad and Tobago where young men, who out of suspicion of mischief were forbidden to use drums to communicate, turned to other items. Among them were modified oil drums.

“Sleepless Nights” is a free-spirited piece that’s anything but tranquil. While Thomas runs point throughout the piece, his accompanists enjoy a little stretching out. Alfonso’s staccato rhythm helps establish his as more than just a background voice. Usually, with 4/4 music, the snare is emphasized on beat 3. Alfonso moves it around quite a bit, and throws in some rolls and cymbal splashes.

Hengstebeck lays down the groove for the funky title song. It’s like instrumental soul music, peppered with calypso.

Foster is a World Steelband Music Festival soloist and duet champion of 2002 and 2004. A native of San Fernando, Trinidad, he attended Florida Memorial University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies. He performs at various festivals and concerts, as well as conducts clinics on jazz, Caribbean music and the steel pan.