I am one of the biggest Donny McCaslin fan boys out there. In my opinion, he is one of the best modern saxophone players out there and I can’t get enough of his playing. I also have had the opportunity, through my studies, to interact and learn from him. He is a great guy who taught me concepts that I still work on to this day. Lessons that seemed simple on the outside but require a tremendous amount of work when you get into them.
Let me tell you why I want you to go out and listen to Donny McCaslin today:
1) First of all, I don’t know if there is a better technician on the saxophone today than Donny (maybe besides Chris Potter.) This guy can play the horn and I’m continuously amazed by the marathon like, mind-bending technique that he regularly displays. I’m usually not impressed by technique alone, but some of the things Donny does on the horn will impress anyone that’s ever gone near a saxophone. By transcribing a couple of measures of any solo he has played, you can gather month’s worth of concepts to work on. Seriously, try it. I have been trying to master a couple of things he does for the past couple of months and I’m getting close, but I still can’t play it like him.
Almost every solo he plays is like a technique master class.
2) Donny’s technique doesn’t get in the way of his musicality. Sometimes when you hear people who are absolute technique monsters, that is all they are. Once you have gotten over how fast and high they can play, there isn’t much substance left in the material. Donny doesn’t play that way. On top of crushing anyone with his technique, he can also play melodies that make you want to cry and make you feel real feelings.
3) Donny is continuously pushing the boundaries of modern creative music. Donny hires great bands that want to push just as hard as him. Take his current band for example; Mark Guiliana, Tim Levebre, and Jason Lindner. These guys will slap you right in the mouth with their energy and all are world-class musicians with an eye on pushing jazz forward and testing the limits of themselves and listeners.
This is the band that played on the new David Bowie record and it is awesome.
(RIP David Bowie, one of the greatest who ever lived.) If this is your kind of music and this band doesn’t inspire you……than I don’t know what to say.
4) Donny’s compositions have a tendency to get stuck in my head for days and weeks. There is something about his melodies, clear and impactful that stick in my ears like gorilla glue.
I have a few friends that absolutely hate his compositions and I will never be sure why. I say to you, kind reader, check them out for yourself and see if you like them. If you have the same disposition as I do you might be walking around humming these tunes all day.
Some of my favorites of his compositions are: Madonna, Late Night Gospel, Fast Brazil, and Stadium Jazz.
I have included some of my favorite videos below so, if you haven’t already, can check out Donny, his music, and his band. Let me know if you are a fan boy like I am and we can gush about his music together. Also, let me know if you don’t like his music for some reason. I always like to hear others opinions on why they lioke or hate something.