This week, StLJN's video spotlight shines on saxophonist Donny McCaslin, who's coming to St. Louis to perform starting Wednesday, October 19 through Saturday, October 22 at Jazz at the Bistro.
McCaslin has been in the news quite a bit this year, thanks to the work he and his band - Tim Lefebvre on bass, Jason Lindner on keyboards, and Mark Guiliana on drums - did on the late David Bowie's final album Blackstar. While this may have been the first time a lot of Bowie's fans had heard of the saxophonist, he's certainly no newcomer to the jazz scene.
A native Californian who turned 50 this year, McCaslin attended Berklee College of Music and first came to wide public attention while still a student, joining the band of vibraphonist and Berklee faculty member Gary Burton in 1987 and touring and recording with him for four years.
McCaslin then was part of the early-90s lineup of the fusion band Steps Ahead, replacing the late Michael Brecker, and he's also spent time in the big bands of Gil Evans, George Gruntz, and Maria Schneider, as well as nearly a decade working alongside Dave Douglas in the critically acclaimed trumpeter's quintet.
He's also recorded a dozen albums as a leader, the most recent being Beyond Now, which is due out next Friday, October 14. Said to be inspired by their experience recording with Bowie, the album features McCaslin and the Blackstar band performing two of Bowie's songs, plus covers of tunes by MUTEMATH, Deadmau5, and The Chainsmokers and five original tracks.
You can see and hear them in three video clips recorded just last month on September 16 at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles, starting up top with "Fast Future," the title track from McCaslin's previous album, and continuing after the jump with "No Eyes" and then a clip containing performances of both "Shake Loose" and "Beyond Now" from their new record.
Below that, you can see and hear complete sets featuring McCaslin with two different lineups of musicians, from March 2016 in Vasto, Italy with Lindner, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Nate Wood, and from August 2014 in Tuscany with bassist Scott Colley, drummer Marcus Gilmore, and pianist Kevin Hays.
Finally, there's an episode of the Voice of America program Beyond Category from 2014 that includes several musical excerpts and an interview with McCaslin.