Percussionist Steve Thornton is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Before moving to Malaysia in 1997, Thornton lived and worked in New York. In the course of his formidable recording career he has worked and recorded with saxophonist Sadao Watanbe, and continues this gig today. Thornton has also worked with and appeared on albums by Herbie Hancock, Mongo Santamaria, jazz legend Miles Davis, and pianist McCoy Tyner, as well as Tracy Chapman, Mariah Carey, and Michael Jackson. His playing is particularly well displayed on albums by jazz vocalist Tania Maria and by romantic crooner Jon Lucien. Most recently, Thornton released an album under his own name ("Nature's Plan"), and appeared on a CD with Keiko Lee, a jazz vocalist popular in Japan.
Growing up in New York, Thornton was mesmerized by sounds of Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente and Willie Bobo. He started playing bongos at the tender age seven and remembers his first LP instrument was a fiberglass conga.
Today, Steve is also a member of Sadao Watanabe Group and Raihan, the Islamic pop group whose musical innovation has stormed Malaysia with a success the band calls nothing less than "a miracle of God." The all-male Raihan sings traditional Islamic religious hymns (or"nasyids") updated with percussion. The musical result, in the words of one British reviewer, "is at once hip and uplifting." Sales from the group's 1997-debut album ("Puji-Pujian") broke all records in Singapore and Malaysia, while its second and third releases are doing equally well. Raihan (which means "sweet scent of heaven" in Arabic) now performs regularly on MTV Asia, and at the recent Malaysian music industry awards beat out conventional pop and rock artists to win best vocal group.