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INTERVIEWS

Donny McCaslin: Lightness and Gravity

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Saxophonist Donny McCaslin seems like a young player, given his energy and inventiveness. But he has been playing jazz for three decades. As a child, he was part of his father's jazz ensemble and a member of his high school jazz band. He led his own bands after moving to New York from his native California, but also did considerable sideman duty. In particular, McCaslin broke into the highest ranks of critical acclaim thanks to his turns with bandleader Maria Schneider and trumpeter Dave Douglas. Highlights of McCaslin's tenure in these groups include his solos on “Bulería, Soleá y Rumba," ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Donny McCaslin: Casting For Gravity

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Incorporating electronic instrumentation into his palette, tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin dishes out a thrusting program that could, to some extent, be nestled within the jazz-fusion genre, but not in the traditional sense. The hard-hitting saxophonist and his band integrate fusion mechanics and spacey treatments to underscore many of the popping grooves, thundering pulses, knotty time signatures and progressive-jazz type soloing exchanges with keyboardist Jason Lindner. But McCaslin doesn't engage technical gymnastics or complexities simply for the sake of it. It's a high-impact and polytonal program, tinted with razor-sharp detours, pummeling rhythms, and airy interludes. One of the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Donny McCaslin: Casting For Gravity

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Tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin has bravely developed a uniquely personal sound that proudly claims its heritage in the long mainstream of jazz, yet sounds freshly innovative. He has released eleven albums under his leadership, among which Recommended Tools (Greenleaf, 2008), with its punishing, revealing trio format, was a high-water mark. McCaslin deploys sheets-of-sound density inherited from saxophonist John Coltrane, together with an inventive approach to rhythm and the placement of notes. This latter characteristic can sometimes resemble the playing of saxophonist Chris Potter, a resemblance brought into clearer focus on this heavily electric album.And Casting for Gravity is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Donny McCaslin: Casting For Gravity

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If saxophonist Donny McCaslin stuck a toe into the ocean of electric jazz with his previous album Perpetual Motion (Greenleaf, 2010), then with Casting For Gravity he dives headfirst into the sea. But don't worry, with his musical dexterity and adeptness on horn, he is in no danger of sinking. In fact, he takes to these waters like a thirsty horse.The saxophonist of choice for the band leaders including trumpeter Dave Douglas, singer Kate McGarry, and composers/arrangers Ryan Truesdell, and Maria Schneider, McCaslin grew up in California listening to fusion, pop, and bands like Tower Of Power that ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Donny McCaslin Group: Half Moon Bay, CA, September 11, 2011

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Donny McCaslin GroupDouglas Beach HouseHalf Moon Bay, CaliforniaSeptember 11, 2011 From New York City, the Donny McCaslin Group arrived at the Douglas Beach House with everything ready to go. The group consisted of tenor saxophonist McCaslin, pianist Uri Caine, bassist Fima Ephron and drummer Mark Guiliana. McCaslin's latest album, Perpetual Motion (Greenleaf, 2011) formed the foundation for a tour whose California leg was scheduled to end with the Monterey Jazz Festival. It was a pleasure to have McCaslin's group stop off at the Douglas Beach House, and provide a taste of this powerful album.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Donny McCaslin: Perpetual Motion

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Perpetual Motion is tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin's first dedicated foray into the electrified realms of funk, R&B and soul. A renowned soloist whose memberships in Dave Douglas' Quintet, Mingus Dynasty and the Maria Schneider Orchestra have won him great acclaim (including a Grammy nomination for his work with Schneider's Orchestra), McCaslin has delved into groove-based territory in the past, but never as exclusively as he does on this simmering electro-acoustic platter.McCaslin's recent releases have relied on primarily acoustic line-ups, including the brass augmented set, Declaration (Greenleaf, 2009), and the stripped-down trio effort, Recommended Tools (Greenleaf, 2008). This heavily ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Donny McCaslin: Perpetual Motion

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Saxophonist Donny McCaslin can be called, quite accurately, a fearless player, whether it's for his prodigious and always adventurous work as a sideman--very notably with trumpeter Dave Douglas' quintet and with Maria Schneider's award-winning orchestra (for which he garnered a Grammy nomination), or on his own discs as a leader.McCaslin's musical spirit is a searching one, exploring different facets of his artistry on the pared-down and often fiery trio outing, Recommended Tools (Greenleaf Records, 2008); going after the Latin flavorings on In Pursuit (Sunnyside Records, 2007); applying an expanded palette on Declaration (Sunnyside Records, 2010); and now charging ...



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