By mid-second decade of the 21st century, jazz saxophonist Donny McCaslin has already established a prolific and far-reaching career as a sought after musician with over a dozen albums to his name and three American Grammy Award nominations. The year of 2014 marked a great turning point when pop legend David Bowie entered the New York’s 55 Bar one evening to listen to Donnie and his band that included drummer Mark Guiliana, bassist Tim Lefebvre and keyboardist Jason Lindner. Bowie, who at that time was already beginning to concoct his final masterpiece, Blackstar, enlisted the band to accompany the album with McCaslin as their creative bandleader. Since then his life had changed completely, exploring Bowie’s experimental methods that fit like a glove for Donny’s inquisitive soul.
McCaslin’s career on stage began at the age of 12 when he joined his father, a vibraphone player, and his jazz group at local gigs. In 1984, he received a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music, and after his graduation moved to NYC where he was quickly positioned at the heart of the creative jazz scene. During that period, he played with a great many musicians including Steps Ahead, Gil Evans Orchestra, George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, Danilo Perez Quartet, the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, and Santi Debriano’s Panamaniacs.
In the years since Bowie’s death, he has released two albums that vividly reflect the change in his musical perception. “Beyond Now”, released in 2016, as well as his recently released album “Blow.” further and more than ever explore and expand the boundaries of jazz incorporating elements of pop and rock music. Moving freely between different music styles such as alt-rock, spoken word, electronics and traditional jazz he creates a special ambience, quaint yet accessible, stretching the imagination while attempting to highlight aspects of American reality today.
Following his dazzling appearance accompanying Jonathan Blake last year at the Red Sea Jazz Festival, this summer Donny McCaslin is here with his own band, almost the same outstanding team of musicians who have accompanied him in his recent albums as well as in the recording of Bowie’s final album. Together they redefine the capacity and limits of jazz.
Donny McCaslin Saxophones
Ryan Dahle Vocals
Zach Danziger Drums
Jason Lindner Keyboards
Tim Lefebvre Bass
Photography: Jimmy Fontaine
Duration of the show: 75 minutes