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Interviews

Donny McCaslin: On The Way Through

By Published: February 13, 2004
AAJ: You know, this is the second or third time someone has brought up Squarepusher in this context? Squarepusher is such a vital force in the electronica realm. He seems to have worked its way across the border.

DM: Yeah, there are a lot of jazz guys that are really into Squarepusher.

AAJ: I was gonna ask about Bjork as well. She has that textural...

DM: Exactly. I love Bjork. For me, that's where it's coming from. It's me listening to those records and saying, "Whoa! I love this."

AAJ: Let's take a break from the album for a minute and talk about what's happening next for you.

DM: I did the CD release gig in October. Starting this month I've got a gig at the 55 Bar here in NY. I've got a bunch of new music. After doing The Way Through I was inspired in a new direction, to use voice, to incorporate Luciana more into the music. I have a whole new batch of music that incorporates her more and has even more of a folkloric feeling.

AAJ: Those tracks really stood out on The Way Through. I'm not saying they were any better, but they stood out as a new direction.

DM: For me to. I grasped that and ran with it. So I have a whole record ready to go of that. And a whole second album of stuff that is more... jazzy. I mean, it's not straight ahead, but... I'm also going to Bermuda for a few gigs with my group in March, and then Europe.

AAJ: What do you do when you need a break from music?

DM: Well, I'm an avid basketball player. Of course, spending time with my girlfriend. And I have an active church life. So I spend time at church. To tell you the truth, it's not that often that I get bored with music, but more that I get burned out and I need to step away. One thing that helps, I love watching a game, man. Especially the NBA. But I like football too. That helps me to cool out.

AAJ: You said you spend time at the church, has church music had any influence on what you do?

DM: Ahh, yes. I mean, for me, the main cats that move me in church music are Bach, Messiaen, and Handel. The church that I go to—First Presbyterian in NY—has basically choir and organ. I have to say, I'm in there sometimes and the music is killing. I'm totally into it. It's influenced me. I've taken a couple hymns from the Presbyterian hymnal and arranged them, put my thing on them. Someday I'd love to record that.

AAJ: This is about as vague as it can get, but there's a certain sense of spirituality in your album that came through. Maybe in a non-conventional church music way, but it came out to me from the album.

DM: You know how that is. The spirit sort of pervades everything unbeknownst to us. Definitely.

AAJ: I did get that. Especially now when you mention Messiaen.

DM: You know something—and this could be way off—but in Messiaen, especially the Triangular Symphony I hear some ambient material in there.

AAJ: I've been fascinated by Messiaen for a while because of that. When I first heard him, I thought, "Man, this guy was doing things way ahead..."

DM: of his time...

AAJ: Something that elecronica is doing now, but more organic. That's the combination I hear in what you're doing now.

DM: He's one of my heroes.

AAJ: Do you pursue a lot of classical music as well?

DM: I don't really pursue it in terms of performance. I've done a few things over the years here and there, but for me it's more as a listener.

AAJ: It seems the importance of classical music has grown. Do you think it has more of an influence now?

DM: I would say so. Sometimes I feel like there's more—how can I say this?—there's a lot of interesting things to draw from in the classical world whereas in the jazz world of course there are a lot of interesting things to draw on, but sometimes in terms of finding something new you have to turn elsewhere.

AAJ: I always have that vision of jazz. It's always branching into other realms. Other music does it too, but jazz is so good at it.

DM: That's because they are all such great, great musicians.

AAJ: Thank you so much for your time. It was a pleasure talking to you.

DM: Thank you.


AAJ Articles
Donny McCaslin: Feeling the Spirit

AAJ Reviews
The Way Through (Arabesque, 2003) 1 | 2 | 3
Seen From Above (Arabesque, 2000) 1
Exile And Discovery (Naxos Jazz, 1998) 1 | 2

Related Websites
Scott Colley
Luciana Souza
David Binney
Arabesque Recordings



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