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Donny McCaslin: Seen From Above

Glenn Astarita By

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When tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin hits his stride, he can hold his own with the best of them. On his first recording for the “Arabesque Recordings” label, titled Seen From Above, and second as a leader, the saxophonist incorporates some of the hard nosed voicings and complex time signatures also exhibited in the fine band, “Lan Xang”. - An outfit, that features the blazing dual sax attack of McCaslin and saxophonist David Binney.

Along with drummer Jim Black, bassist Scott Colley and guitarist Ben Monder, McCaslin struts his broad, weighty tone amid scathing lines and cunning improvisation atop solid funk-rock beats on the album’s opener, “Manresa” and throughout most of these upbeat tracks. Here, the band deviates from a traditional ho-hum style of interplay, marked by shifty time signatures, ominous yet altogether innocent themes and searing ensemble work, enhanced by the potent and ever so creative rhythmic developments of Black and Colley.

Monder and McCaslin implement rapid fire, odd-metered unison choruses on the turbo charged composition, “Mick Gee” as the band creates loads of impact via tense themes and beefy lines. With “Going To The Territory”, the saxophonist is ablaze as he reworks the melody while displaying a husky tone to coincide with his shrewd utilization of various registers and altogether expressionistic approach, while Monder counters with electrified aplomb. Overall, McCaslin delivers the knockout blow in prominent fashion! Recommended.

* * * * (out of * * * * *)

( Arabesque Recordings )


Title: Seen From Above | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: ATCO Records


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