Donny McCaslin Group
Thursday, September 15, 8 p.m.| Kate Buchanan Room, HSU
“Indisputably one of the major saxophone voices of his generation.”
—David Adler, Jazz Times
“An interesting and often enthralling change of pace for McCaslin that features his powerful and eloquent horn surrounded by a hard-rocking, plugged-in group.”
—Peter Hum, Ottawa Citizen
(For music and links, scroll to the bottom of this page)
It’s not often we invite a past guest to return as a leader—but when tenor titan Donny McCaslin (RJA 2008-09) offered to swing through with his new quartet on his way to the Monterey Jazz Festival, we couldn’t resist. McCaslin, a laidback Californian, is one of our favorite people in the world (pianist Frank Kimbrough once dubbed him "The Donny Lama"), and like many of his past projects, this one is turning heads. DownBeat hears in his venture into “electric” jazz--a bold U-turn from his spare acoustic trio of 2008--“an irrepressible outpouring of ideas, sometimes flowing with such force that they seem to back up, tripping on each other, then gushing forth giddily.” With echoes of Memphis soul, Led Zeppelin, and West Coast funk (think Tower of Power), the band’s album Perpetual Motion, says Jazz Times, is still firmly grounded in the tenor saxophonist’s “vibrant, room-filling tone [and] the boundless rhythmic fluency of his soloing.”
McCaslin grew up in Santa Cruz. Inspired by his father, a pianist and vibraphonist, he took up the tenor saxophone at 12 and developed quickly, touring Europe and participating in the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival’s California All-Star band while he was still in high school. After attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music, he put in an apprenticeship with Gary Burton, touring with the legendary vibraphonist’s quintet for four years. McCaslin moved to New York in 1991, and soon replaced Michael Brecker in the group Steps Ahead. Today, he balances his own projects with sideman roles in two of the most prominent groups in jazz, the Dave Douglas Quintet and the Maria Schneider Orchestra. (His soloing on the latter’s Concert In the Garden was nominated for a Grammy.)
The other members of the Donny McCaslin Group have equally impressive résumés. Keyboardist Uri Caine headlined an RJA concert with his trio in 2009. A musician of extraordinary breadth and depth, Caine plays virtuosic solo piano, adapts Bach and Mahler for jazz ensembles that include a turntablist and a cantor, and lays down funk grooves with ?uestlove of The Roots.
Fima Ephron is one of the most in-demand bassists in New York, having played with everyone from John Zorn and Don Byron to Natalie Merchant and MeShell N'degeocello. (Ephron appeared last season as a member of the Chris Potter Underground.)
The youngest member of the band is drummer Mark Guiliana, who in his short career has already attracted plenty of attention for his playing with bassist Avishai Cohen and the Jazz Mandolin Project. (He's recently appeared with his own group Beat Music and in a duo with Brad Mehldau.) Modern Drummer calls Guiliana “one of the best up-and-coming stars of today’s drumming scene.”
Tickets ($15 General Admission, $10 Students & Seniors) are available here at our website, or at Wildwood Music, People's Records, and The Works.
The Donny McCaslin Group will also present a FREE public workshop the following morning, Friday, September 16th at 9:30 in Room 131 of the Music Building. People of all levels of experience are welcome to attend.
Words & Pixels:
Additional support for this show comes from KHSU, Catherine M. Koshkin Attorney at Law, Luke's Joint & The Other Place, Rustic West Trading Company, Threadbare Dancewear, Tomo Japanese Restaurant, and Zwerdling, Bragg & Mainzer, LLP.