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ALBUM REVIEWS

Earl MacDonald: Open Borders

Read "Open Borders" reviewed by Jack Bowers

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Earl MacDonald: Open Borders

Read "Open Borders" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Earl MacDonald: Open Borders

Read "Open Borders" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

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

Read "Mirror of the Mind" reviewed by Bruce Lindsay

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

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

Read "Mirror of the Mind" reviewed by Edward Blanco

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Earl MacDonald: Re:Visions

Read "Re:Visions" reviewed by Woodrow Wilkins

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Earl MacDonald: Re: Visions

Read "Re: Visions" reviewed by Edward Blanco

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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