Donny McCaslin Group
To say the least, saxophonist Donny McCaslin’s profile was lifted by his recent association with the late David Bowie. Since McCaslin’s quartet – the one you’ll hear tonight – appeared on the pop star’s acclaimed final album, Blackstar, McCaslin has achieved the kind of crossover success he never could have imagined. But long before that turning point in his career, this native of Santa Clara, Cal., had established himself as one of the strongest and most distinctive players on the scene, as a leader and as a member of such top-tier bands as the Dave Douglas Quintet and the Maria Schneider Orchestra.
Plugged into a fiery post-Coltrane sound or pushing the envelope of jazz-rock fusion, McCaslin has knocked out fans and fellow musicians alike. “Donny is an amazing saxophone player – scary at times,” raved fellow tenorist Jimmy Greene, responding to a track from McCaslin’s 2015 album, Fast Future, in a recent DownBeat Blindfold Test.
McCaslin’s 2016 album, Beyond Now, which he’ll draw from tonight, is a continuation of his work with Bowie, two of whose songs get covered. Featuring keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Mark Guiliana, the quartet posits a sweeping and soaring sound highlighted by its depth of emotion and richness of its sonic textures. At times, you can hear a debt to the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but in paying tribute to Bowie, McCaslin is in more of a “Space Oddity” frame of mind. Ground control to Major Donny?