Donny McCaslin: Beyond Now

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COMPOSERS: Donny McCaslin
LABELS: Motema
ALBUM TITLE: Donny McCaslin
WORKS: Beyond Now
PERFORMER: Donny McCaslin (sax), Jason Lindner (keyboards), Tim Lefebvre (bass) et al


Saxophone player Donny McCaslin was catapulted to international fame last year as a result of David Bowie asking him to play on what would be his swansong album Blackstar. It was a characteristically perceptive move by Bowie: McCaslin had already made a name for himself in hip jazz circles stateside, both as a fierce improviser as well as for his wide- ranging alternative rock influences.

Beyond Now is directly informed by his experience as sideman and soloist to the dying starman. In among a programme that includes five turbulent original pieces

and obscure covers (electro DJ Deadmau5, for example), there’s
a monumental version of Bowie’s ‘Warszawa’ and a gothic take on the apocalyptic ‘A Small Plot of Land’.

It’s far from being a maudlin tribute, though. Along with Blackstar’s core personnel, McCaslin has created a plangent paean to Bowie that is startlingly innovative in its conception and then exquisitely detailed in its execution.


Garry Booth