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Donny McCaslin: The Way Through

Mark Corroto By

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Why should you listen to new jazz recordings? There will never be another Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, or Charles Mingus. Nor will there be another Jaco Pastorius, Thomas Chapin, or Tom Cora.

We listen because each new generation produces a voice that resonates somewhere deep within our souls. And discovery of that voice is one of the most cherished experiences of listening.

Saxophonist Donny McCaslin has one of those resonating voices. He has become, as they say, an overnight sensation in the past decade. His horn has stood out in recordings by Danilo Perez, Ethan Winogrand, and Luciana Souza. He mixes with a revolving group of players including Scott Colley, and David Binney, who record their own dates and as the avant band Lan Xang.

McCaslin’s latest, The Way Through, is indeed his breakout album. His mixes solo tracks with duos and combinations alongside six other musicians to create a solid statement of purpose.

The disc opens with the bright post-bop piece “Skyward.” McCaslin wraps his huge tenor sound around the accented, arranged horn backing of this band. He quickly shifts into a sunnier zone with steel pans and the vocal stylings of Luciana Souza. The vocalist and leader face off in a bit of call-and-responce over the heavy percussion. The Sammy Cahn classic “I Should Care” is trotted out in a straight forward trio setting with some nifty upper register explorations at its conclusion.

McCaslin’s tenor is so strong that he takes on Dizzy’s “Woody And You” unaccompanied and brimming with ideas. He also plays two tracks in a duo setting with alto saxophonist David Binney.

Weird samples open and close the mathematics of “Break Tune,” with its start/stop spin the tempo meter changes. Although eclectic, McCaslin’s approach makes this a cohesive statement throughout.


Track Listing: Skyward; San Lorenzo; Shadowlands; I Should Care; The Way Through; Break Tune; Free California; Fe Fi Fo Fum; What Remains; Woody And You; Flutter.

Personnel: Donny McCaslin - Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone; Scott Colley - Bass; Adam Cruz - Drums, Percussion, Steel Pan Marimba; Luciana Souza - Voice; David Binney - Alto Saxophone, Sampler; Andres Bostrom - Flute, Alto Flute, Bass Flute; Douglas Yates - Clarinet, Bass Clarinet.

Title: The Way Through | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Arabesque Jazz


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