5

Donny McCaslin: Casting For Gravity

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
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 infused R&B and funk into their jazz horn section. For awhile in the 1990s, he played in a revived version of vibraphonist Mike Mainieri's Steps Ahead.

Steps Ahead, with its various lineups that included saxophonist Michael Brecker, keyboardist Don Grolnick and drummers Peter Erskine and Steve Gadd, is the touchstone for this recording. That is, a time when fusion was not a dirty word.

The saxophonist surrounds himself with talent here, starting with producer/saxophonist David Binney, a fellow saxophonist and former member of the 1990s collective Lan Xang, with McCaslin. The album opens with the oxymoronic "Stadium Jazz," a melodic burner with ever- changing rhythms, and finds drummer Mark Guiliana powering all things ablaze. The pair feed off each other throughout, trading rounds on "Tension," as electric bassist Tim Lefebvre tinkers in thunder-making.

The inspiration here is both the jazz fusion of Weather Report and the electronica of bands like Aphex Twin and Boards Of Canada, whose song, "Alpha And Omega," gets covered here, with keyboardist Jason Lindner's spooky synths and McCaslin's processed, echo-y effects. As the song progresses the electronics threaten and bully the affair, all the while McCaslin Enduring on a short, four-minute song that begs for a longer live production.

Like jazz giant Wayne Shorter, McCaslin's sound suffers no ill effects of fusion, nor is he compromised by the genre. He goes toe-to-toe with the electric funk on "Says Who" and sails above the changes on the tour de force "Praia Grande." On the thoughtful closer "Henry," a softer tone is called, with Linder on electric piano and McCaslin delivering his trademark runs.

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 piano, acoustic piano, synthesizers; Tim Lefebvre: electric bass; Mark Guiliana: drums.

Title: Casting For Gravity | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Greenleaf Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Triple Double CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "The Better Angels of Our Nature" CD/LP/Track Review The Better Angels of Our Nature
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "A Beautiful Story" CD/LP/Track Review A Beautiful Story
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 30, 2017
Read "Blue Skylight" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Skylight
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 12, 2017
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "Comes Love - A Tribute To Ella Fitzgerald And Joe Pass" CD/LP/Track Review Comes Love - A Tribute To Ella Fitzgerald And Joe Pass
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Lowdown Hoedown" CD/LP/Track Review Lowdown Hoedown
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 18, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.