Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

339

Donny McCaslin at The Jazz Standard

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Donny McCaslin at the Jazz Standard
The Jazz Standard
New York, NY
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

There has always existed in jazz a tension between the unprepared or spontaneous and the written or the composed. The recording process is part of this tension and crystallizes the immediate present moment for posterity, paradoxically helping to spread the jazz aesthetic while freezing it.

The CD release tour is another paradoxical part of the jazz scene, in that the band that recorded the record usually (more often than not) plays the tunes from it many times. For a one-nighter at The Jazz Standard, Donny McCaslin brought his sextet, along with executives from Sunnyside Records to support the release of In Pursuit, the band's CD which has been out for a few months.

The ensemble is quite high-octane and has been together for a while, composed of long-time compatriot, alto saxophonist David Binney, guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Scott Colley, drummer Adam Cruz (who replaces Antonio Sanchez from the record) and percussionist Pernell Saturnino.

The set, which was musically densely packed, started with "Fast Brazil" and ended with "Festival in 3 Parts," with "Madonna," "Send Me a Postcard," "A Brief Tale" and one other in between. Given such a lineup and program, the band's extreme tightness was to be expected. Cruz, Colley and Saturnino created the light and lithe but urgent Latin/South American rhythms with ease, allowing the front-line instruments to soar.

Small wonder that Monder is in such demand since it's what he does while not soloing that really makes the music. Using fresh and different chord forms, his irregular comping filled out the harmony without being obvious, while the short phrases he interjected as comments added spice to the proceedings. A monster player technically, Monder barely seems to move his fingers when he solos, and the electronics, which he chooses wisely, allow him to soar and crunch when needed.

Binney, who produced the album, has had an obvious influence on McCaslin's compositions, in much the same manner as on Mirror by Miles Okazaki. The use of the second, higher horn added an intriguing sound to the lines he shared with McCaslin, with solos that really took off.

McCaslin, whose saxophone sound is taut and forcefully supported, has a style that is hard to pin down, since he uses quite a few different time feels and articulations. Although quite able to run a long line off with ease, he might just as well play short, sharp phrases made up of repeated notes and patterns of wide intervals. The one thing that is immediately apparent is that McCaslin's is not a style that one would term "laid back": every note he plays has an urgency about it.

The compositions, existing in the space between through-composed and free improvisation, have an organic quality about them that allows the arrangements to seem natural as the tune unfolds. Although most of the pieces followed a loose ABA form, "Send Me a Postcard" and the epic "Festival in 3 Parts" felt as if they unwound without distinct declamation and soloing sections.

The set was packed with music that had so many different levels—from the complex and sophisticated to the spontaneous and visceral—that, instead of flying by as is the norm, time seemed to stop. By mixing hot playing with so much pure melody, McCaslin and the band were entrancing.

Visit Donny McCaslin on the web.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Jazztopad Festival 2017 Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery Live Reviews Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery
by Kurt Gottschalk
Published: December 10, 2017
Read The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace Live Reviews The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace
by Doug Collette
Published: December 10, 2017
Read Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre Live Reviews Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: December 8, 2017
Read BAN BAM: Music Talking Live Reviews BAN BAM: Music Talking
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 7, 2017
Read "Sue Rynhart at The Cresent Arts Centre" Live Reviews Sue Rynhart at The Cresent Arts Centre
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 15, 2017
Read "Diane Schuur at Birdland" Live Reviews Diane Schuur at Birdland
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "Jim Beard And Jon Herington At The Kennett Flash" Live Reviews Jim Beard And Jon Herington At The Kennett Flash
by Mike Jacobs
Published: June 29, 2017
Read "April Jazz Festival in Espoo, Finland" Live Reviews April Jazz Festival in Espoo, Finland
by Anthony Shaw
Published: May 9, 2017
Read "CEO Experiment With Kurt Rosenwinkel at The Sugar Club" Live Reviews CEO Experiment With Kurt Rosenwinkel at The Sugar Club
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 11, 2017

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!