5

Donny McCaslin: Casting For Gravity

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Donny McCaslin: Casting For Gravity 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 a very electric record. If Perpetual Motion (Greenleaf, 2011) signaled the introduction of electric keyboards and bass, it evolved organically out of McCaslin's exemplary acoustic work. Eyebrows were not raised. "Going electric" may not be nearly as controversial as it was in Bob Dylan's day, but Casting for Gravity will raise eyebrows—and thumbs.

McCaslin has made much of the influence of electronica producer Aphex Twin, of dub reggae, and of Headhunters bassist Paul Jackson in the compositions and performances on this record (certainly not influences that were immediately apparent on the earlier records). Casting for gravity, indeed. So there are surging electric guitar-like slabs of sound on "Says Who," breezy reverb-rich, Augustus Pablo-like melodica on "Alpha and Omega" (from the Boards of Canada songbook), and pile-driving bass notes on "Tension." Very unlike the records that came before. The combination comes out sounding something like the orchestral keyboards of Joe Zawinul in Weather Report—which is a good thing. Mentor and producer David Binney's "Praia Grande" even brings out a Wayne Shorter-like beauty in McCaslin's playing.

Bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Mark Guiliana were in the Perpetual Motion band, but sound like entirely different players in this more resolutely electric setting. Multi-keyboardist Jason Lindner is the true author of the sound on the record, providing a mix of electronic textures (and some beautiful acoustic playing on "Love Song for an Echo").

The key concern: Does McCaslin's remarkable saxophone voice get lost in the newly tumultuous mix? It does not. Casting for Gravity provides a different context, a re-imagined platform for appreciating McCaslin's intensity. He sounds different than he does against the intimate acoustic trio of Recommended Tools, and some harmonic nuances are perhaps steamrollered by the powerful wall of sound, but the rhythmic ingenuity of his playing is cast in a new light.


Track Listing: Stadium Jazz; Says Who; Losing Track of Daytime; Alpha and Omega; Tension; Praia Grande; Love Song for an Echo; Casting for Gravity; Bend; Henry.

Personnel: Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone; Jason Lindner: electric & acoustic pianos, synthesizers; David Binney: vocals, additional synthesizers; Tim Lefebvre: electric bass; Mark Guiliana: drums.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Greenleaf Music | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Jazzin' Around Christmas" CD/LP/Track Review Jazzin' Around Christmas
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 8, 2016
Read "Komorebi" CD/LP/Track Review Komorebi
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 17, 2016
Read "Once Upon A Time In Portugal" CD/LP/Track Review Once Upon A Time In Portugal
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 30, 2016
Read "Deeper Journey" CD/LP/Track Review Deeper Journey
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Odil - Something" CD/LP/Track Review Odil - Something
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 27, 2016
Read "Binary" CD/LP/Track Review Binary
by John Sharpe
Published: January 21, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!