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Sun, 21 May


Watford Heath

Leon Foster Thomas: a free event

A free show outside on Watford Heath presenting the globally acclaimed talents of steelpan and jazz maestro, Leon Foster Thomas and his quintet.

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Leon Foster Thomas: a free event
Leon Foster Thomas: a free event


21 May 2023, 17:00

Watford Heath, Watford WD19, UK


NB - one of our promotion leaflets for this event incorrectly states a performance date of 20 May. Leon definitely plays on Sunday 21 May at 5pm!

Closing this year's festival, we are thrilled to be joined by the global steelpan star Leon Foster Thomas as he plays a free show on Watford Heath, by the Royal Oak pub.

Leon, a multiple past winner of the World Steelband Music Festival, will be joined by his quintet to play a hugely accessible and suitably Caribbean infused set for all. Expect jazz, blues and reggae like you've never heard it before.

About Leon

As one of the leading steel pan jazz virtuosos in the world, Leon Foster Thomas has gained global recognition via a plethora of accolades including winning both the solo and duet competitions at the World Steelband Music Festival. 

He blends his Caribbean roots with the harmonic and improvisational complexities of jazz, creating a lively and eclectic meld all his own. Critics laud him as  “…a­­­n enthralling improvisor…” (All About Jazz) and “…masterful with impeccable musicianship” (When Steel Talks).

Leon’s deft and ambitious command of the steel pan has transcended beyond the instrument’s novel stereotype to being featured at world stages such as New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, Adrienne Arsht Center of the Performing Arts (Miami), Moscow International House of Music, Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Perm International Jazz Festival (Russia), Miami Downtown Jazz Festival, International Festival of Contemporary Culture (Kazakhstan), and Pittsburgh Jazz Live International Festival. He has also worked with artists such as: Hugh Masekela, Randy Brecker, John Daversa, Sammy Figueroa, Vince Mendoza, Igor Butman, Dolly Parton, John Beasley, Mino Cinelu, Etienne Charles, Richard Smallwood, Orphy Robinson, Cyril Neville, Kindred The Family Soul, Ky-Mani Marley and many more. 

Leon also played a significant part in her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations on The Mall in 2022.

With a series of critically acclaimed albums, most recently Metamorphosis on respected label Ropadope Records, he is showcasing his inimitable talent once again, with a new body of recorded work that encapsulates the intricacy, energy and sonic brilliance that Leon Foster creates on his instrument of choice with his upcoming release, Calasanitus. Honing his in-depth talents as a musical storyteller, Leon has produced an album which perfectly illustrates his transformative journey.

Leon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Florida Memorial University and a Master of Music degree from Florida International University. He is currently based in the United Kingdom, pursuing his PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London where he is conducting research on Caribbean Jazz of the Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean.

He continues to perform at festivals and concerts around the world, as well as conducting lectures and master classes at various educational and cultural institutions.

We can't wait to hear him play!


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