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Earl MacDonald Articles

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Earl MacDonald: Open Borders

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Open Borders brings to the fore Canadian-born pianist Earl MacDonald's burnished tentet in a program that consists of eleven sunlit and swinging themes, five of which were composed by the leader. Besides writing, MacDonald did most of the arranging, and he excels in both arenas, as he does on piano (most notably on the standards “Blame It On My Youth" and “East of the Sun" as well as on Percy Mayfield's R&B classic “Hit the Road Jack" and his own ...

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Earl MacDonald: Open Borders

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Not many piano led ensembles finds the pianist laying as far back in the musical dialogue as Earl MacDonald, who doesn't come anywhere near an extended solo until “Miles Apart" and Percy Mayfield's Ray Charles blow- out “Hit The Road Jack" (tracks five and six respectively). But that's just fine given that MacDonald has charted the conversations and man oh man, do these arrangements crackle with spirit.From the high-flying “Dig In Buddy" to the exhilarating Latin flavors “Dolphy ...

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Earl MacDonald: Open Borders

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Politicians might do well to take a few pointers from pianist-arranger Earl MacDonald. As this fine album attests to, it's far better to build bridges than walls, and far more productive to open borders and dialogue than close hearts, minds, and doors. While MacDonald didn't initially set out to make a political statement with this recording, both the events of the day and the make-up of the marvelously tight dectet that brings this music to life got ...

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Earl MacDonald and the Creative Opportunity Workshop: Mirror of the Mind

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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 ...

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Earl MacDonald and the Creative Opportunity Workshop: Mirror of the Mind

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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 ...

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Earl MacDonald: Re:Visions

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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 ...

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Earl MacDonald: Re: Visions

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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 ...

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Earl MacDonald: Re: Visions

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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 ...

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Earl MacDonald: Re:Visions

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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 ...

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The Earl MacDonald 6: Echoes In The Night

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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 ...

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The Earl MacDonald 6: Echoes In The Night

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"There's gold in them there hills!... One could say this about Echoes In The Night, the debut album from the Earl MacDonald 6. The work was recorded in the hills of Storrs, on the University of Connecticut campus. That's where the “country ends and the sophistication begins. The sound and style of this album is totally cosmopolitan, modern, and fresh.

Pianist MacDonald (a veteran of Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau band, where he was musical director) is now ...