Death Defying Records, it says on the cover. A doom-laden title for a record label but any expectations of a frenzy of black metal or gangster rap are soon dispelled by the beautiful cello and piano interplay on the opening bars of the title track. Mirror Of The Mind, from pianist Earl MacDonald and the Creative Opportunity Workshop, is an album that surprises and delights--from the unusual piano, cello, sax and percussion line-up to the mix of styles and inspirations that influence MacDonald's writing. MacDonald, Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Connecticut and a former musical ...read more
Not satisfied with the traditional jazz spectrum, pianist and educator Earl MacDonald explores new ways of expressing his progressive taste and with Mirror of the Mind deciding to challenge the boundaries of jazz with a unique instrumentation and sound forged by his new band, Creative Opportunity Workshop. As Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Connecticut and former director of Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau Band, MacDonald has had plenty of experience in the large ensemble circuit and with the traditional side of jazz (nominated for 2011 Canadian Juno Awards for Traditional Jazz Album of the Year"). This new ...read more
In a period when many new recordings feature trios, quartets or other small ensembles, it's refreshing when a full-size orchestra comes along. Pianist, composer and arranger Earl MacDonald offers that refreshment with Re:Visions--Works for Jazz Orchestra. MacDonald is a native of Winnipeg, Canada and director of jazz studies at the University of Connecticut. A winner of several awards, MacDonald spent two years as musical director, pianist and arranger for the Maynard Ferguson Big Bop Nouveau Band. He composed six of the nine selections on Re:Visions, for a 17-piece ensemble that's conducted by Mike Holober. One of ...read more
There are far too few big band albums being recorded these days, so it is with great appreciation that the music of professor Earl MacDonald finds its way to the studio for lovers of the genre to enjoy. Harnessing the talents of a 17-piece, world-class orchestra, MacDonald--a composer/arranger/pianist and director of Jazz Studies at the University of Connecticut--manages to produce a scintillating frame of big band orchestrations on Re: Visions. No stranger to the big band arena, MacDonald is an award-winning arranger who served as musical director for the Maynard Ferguson Big Bop Nouveau Band, and also leads the University ...read more
The big band era ended long ago, but the world is a better place because people like pianist Earl MacDonald still yearn to keep it alive in some way. MacDonald--a composer, arranger, pianist and Director of jazz studies at the University of Connecticut--is probably best known for his work in jazz education and his time spent with Maynard Ferguson, serving as musical director, pianist and arranger for the trumpet titan. Despite his considerable skills behind the piano, it's his composing and arranging chops that will raise eyebrows here. MacDonald immediately establishes his group as a force to ...read more
There is a reason that the saying, keeping it fresh" is rarely uttered in the same sentence as 17-piece jazz orchestra"--because a large orchestra in the world of jazz tends to maneuver about as delicately as an army deploys. Well, that is unless your jazz army is under the direction of Earl MacDonald. He commands his troops on Re:Visions to be both flexible and nimble. This buoyant recording is a big band record for those who prefer the dexterity of smaller groups, but dig the beefy energy of multiple players.
MacDonald is the director of jazz studies at the University ...read more
Sea Breeze is fine mainstream label that deserves recognition for putting out Echoes In The Night by the talented pianist Earl MacDonald and his new sextet. The music is nevertheless very ingratiating and delightful, if not startlingly original. Currently the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Connecticut, MacDonald has put together a group of talented, like-minded musicians who share the common goal of writing and playing music that is in the tradition without slavishly imitating their idols. They play a mix of standards ("East of the Sun ) and originals, some with referents ("Owe Joe, ...read more