Donny McCaslin Goes Beyond Now At Birdland
Donny McCaslin Goes Beyond Now At Birdland – January 9, 2017
It was one year ago, last January, when we got the amazing Blackstar album from David Bowie and then learned of his death two days later. I had been fortunate enough to speak to Tony Visconti shortly before the release so I had an inkling for what was in store. The gist of Tony’s preview was that a brilliant local jazz quartet led by Donny McCaslin were playing rock written and sung by David Bowie. Visconti raved about how drummer Mark Guiliana ‘changed all of our lives’ and no less of a dude than Derek Trucks is on the record as to Tim Lefevbre being a phenomenal bass player. Nate Wood, by the way, performs very admirably when Tim can’t turn up, as was the case on Monday. In the bonus video below, Donny speaks to myriad influences and how he hooked up with said co-conspirators along with keys-man Jason Linder.
The phenomenal success of Blackstar still has not completely run its course as was made plain by a phone call that McCaslin received while I was setting up my camera backstage at Birdland on Monday night. The subject of the call was being in attendance at the grammy ceremony next month as a representative in case the album wins any of the handful of awards it has been nominated for. Earlier this month, three non-album tracks from the sessions were released as David Bowie’s No Plan EP and McCaslin let its momentum carry him towards his new album Beyond Now. That’s not to suggest by any means that Beyond Now is Blackstar Part Two. Some of its spirit is in there surely including a pair of Bowie covers and the realization of a song begun during the recordings with him. However, as a musician in the truest sense who is constantly evolving and incorporating new influences, Beyond Now also includes interpretations of compositions by Deadmau5 and Mutemath. Bowie’s parting gift to the world wasn’t just Blackstar. It was turning people on to Donny McCaslin.