Donny Plays

Critics seems to have their ascots in a bundle over how much saxophone is being played by Donny McCaslin on his new release, Recommended Tools. I find that puzzling.

Nate Chinen of the NY Times (may require registration) has some good stuff, though:

Mr. McCaslin favors turbo-charged gusts and bustling grooves, often drawing on his fascination with Latin American music. He also exhibits a post-Coltrane obsession with harmonic substitutions, sometimes plunging into a blizzard of arpeggios. A tune like “The Champion,” dedicated to the Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal, combines a handful of his interests in one package; at one point the band drops out and Mr. McCaslin continues on, crooning and honking his way through the form, compellingly, alone.

Elsewhere much of the strength of “Recommended Tools” comes from his knockabout rapport with the bassist Hans Glawischnig and the drummer Johnathan Blake. As a rhythm section, Mr. Glawischnig and Mr. Blake operate with poise as well as power, expertly handling every twist and turn in the compositions.

The album features one slow standard, Strayhorn and Ellington’s “Isfahan,” which Mr. McCaslin approaches with all due tenderness. But if he included the song to connect with the jazz tradition, the gesture was strictly unnecessary. Mr. McCaslin is already coming from that direction at a breakneck but steady pace.

This after winning the Downbeat Poll under the Rising Star Tenor category. Click the image to the right to read the feature written by Peter Margasak. McCaslin in Downbeat

Go Donny!