Three-time GRAMMY® nominee Donny McCaslin is the leading saxophonist, composer, and musical pioneer of his generation, receiving wide commercial and critical acclaim in jazz, rock and electronica circles alike.
With 12 albums to his name, McCaslin is best known for his collaboration and friendship with the late David Bowie, who tasked McCaslin to work hand-in-hand on his final album, Blackstar.
“It was like a dream except it was something I never could have dreamed of,” reflects Donny. “David Bowie was a visionary artist whose generosity, creative spirit, and fearlessness will stay with me the rest of my days.” The result was Beyond Now, McCaslin’s latest album dedicated to Bowie. Since its release on Motéma Music in 2016, Beyond Now has garnered praise from Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, The New York Times, Associated Press and more.
While many have discovered McCaslin for the first time since the release of Blackstar and Beyond Now, his prominent career is over 25 years in the making.
Raised in Santa Cruz, California, McCaslin attended Berklee College of Music, where he would go on to join the iconic NEA Jazz Master Gary Burton’s Quintet as a senior. Moving to New York in 1991, he quickly made a name for himself as a first-call soloist and touring musician, working with Maria Schneider, Dave Douglas, Danilo Perez, Brian Blade, Gil Evans project, Steps Ahead, and many others. During this time frame he also began releasing several albums with his own groups as well as receiving critical awards such as a Chamber Music of America New Works Grant in 2006 and winner of DownBeat Critics Poll ‘Rising Star’ category in 2008 & 2009, among others.
However the definitive path to Bowie and Beyond Now can be traced back to 2011, when McCaslin released Perpetual Motion, taking an electric direction for the first time at the suggestion of longtime producer David Binney in contrast to his previous acoustic projects. He and Binney soon after assembled the core members of his working band, known as the Donny McCaslin Group: Jason Lindner (Now Vs Now) on keyboards, Tim Lefebvre (Tedeschi Trucks Band, Saturday Night Live) on electric bass, and drummer Mark Guiliana (Meshell Ndegeocello, Brad Mehldau), all of whom were featured on Blackstar. Two subsequent albums Casting for Gravity and Fast Future continued this new musical direction, directly influenced by electronica artists (covering groups such as Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, and Baths), which netted McCaslin a GRAMMY® nomination for “Best Improvised Jazz Solo.” It was clear that McCaslin was cementing a new improvisatory style of music with his passion for electronica, EDM, funk, dub, and jazz.