Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Donny McCaslin: Give and Go

244

Donny McCaslin: Give and Go

By

View read count
Donny McCaslin: Give and Go
If there's one label that's committed to defining the new mainstream, it's Criss Cross Jazz. Earlier recordings on Gerry Teekens' label weighed more heavily towards the standards repertoire, but recent releases by artists like guitarist Adam Rogers, trumpeter Alex Sipiagin and pianist Edward Simon have applied a more contemporary spin on acoustic jazz through a greater focus on original material. This writing, while rooted in tradition, often incorporates more complex and modernistic harmonic and rhythmic conceits, moving mainstream jazz into the 21st Century.

Add saxophonist Donny McCaslin and Give and Go to that list. Since arriving in New York in the early 1990s, McCaslin has become an increasingly in-demand player, as comfortable in Maria Schneider's large ensemble as in the more experimental Lan Xang, a collective with alto saxophonist David Binney—who coincidentally produced the Latin American-inflected Soar (Sunnyside, 2006), McCaslin's second disc this year. McCaslin also replaced Chris Potter in Dave Douglas' quintet and appeared on the trumpeter's Meaning & Mystery (Greenleaf, 2006), so this may well McCaslin's year to leap into the spotlight.

As different as these three records are, McCaslin links them with his fiery yet never over-the-top playing. His softspoken personality is almost paradoxical to passionate solos like the one on "Outlaw. The descending four-chord pattern at the core of the tune has a Metheny-like vibe, but with trumpeter John Swana hovering around McCaslin's theme and guitarist Steve Cardenas' accompaniment—warm like Metheny, but somehow more sharply defined—it's but a passing reference.

McCaslin's exposure to broad musical opportunities informs his writing. The staggered rhythm of "Scrappy may be the foundation for a quirky Monk-like unison theme from McCaslin and Swana, but bassist Scott Colley and drummer Gene Jackson manage to make it swing, almost in spite of itself. McCaslin's solo builds with inexorable logic, using broad intervallic leaps and understated power to gradually boost its intensity. "Drift, on the other hand, is a more tempered piece, although Jackson's rubato-like elasticity lends its gentler veneer a constant sense of tension and release.

If this is McCaslin's year for greater exposure, Cardenas' playing on Give and Go ought to place him in higher definition as well. His accompaniment is supportive yet suggestive, while his solos combine a Frisell-like angularity with a stronger mainstream focus. Nowhere is this more evident than on the title track, where his solo—beginning as a duet with Jackson—blends smooth legato lines and fluid arpeggios, becoming even more outré when Colley joins in. Clearly, Cardenas is a guitarist to watch, along with Kurt Rosenwinkel, Adam Rogers and Ben Monder.

The greatest difference between Give and Go and Soar is the former's more impromptu nature. Soar demonstrates McCaslin's more orchestral side, while Give and Go is a purer blowing session. Still, McCaslin's adventurous compositions and well-constructed yet evocative playing—mirrored by the rest of the quintet—make it both a unique and logical entry in his growing discography.

Track Listing

Outlaw; Scrappy; Drift; Give and Go; The Liberator's Song; Two/Three; Doom Fuss; Eronel.

Personnel

Donny McCaslin
saxophone, tenor

Donny McCaslin: tenor and soprano saxophones; John Swana: trumpet; Steve Cardenas: guitar; Scott Colley: bass; Gene Jackson: drums.

Album information

Title: Give And Go | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Criss Cross


< Previous
Two Roads Diverged

Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Water is My Song
Synia Carroll
Pata Kandinsky
Norbert Stein
Tributes
Antonio Farao

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.