Donny McCaslin – Perpetual Motion – Green Leaf Music Inc. 69:51 ****:
(Donny McCaslin – tenor saxophone, composer; Adam Benjamin – Fender Rhodes, piano; Tim Lefebvre – electric bass; Antonio Sanchez – drums; Mark Guiliana – drums; Uri Caine – piano, Fender Rhodes, composer; David Binney – alto saxophone, electronics)
Donny McCaslin was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California. His father was a pianist and vibraphonist. Donny started playing tenor saxophone when he was 12 and learned quickly. He toured Europe and participated in the Monterey Jazz Festival’s California All-Star band while in high school. He attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He moved to New York where he worked with a number of other musicians and groups and became more known for solo work in Ken Schaphorst’s big band and later with the Maria Schneider Orchestra. He won a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo 2004 while with the orchestra for his solo on the album Concert in the Garden. Donny has won the Downbeat Critics Poll for Rising Star on the tenor saxophone in 2008 and 2009. Donny has been a sideman in many organizations and recordings with artists such as Tom Harrell, Danilo Perez, Luciana Souza, Brian Blade, Pat Metheny and The Mingus Band. Donny’s musical influences are rock, hip hop, electronica, funk and jazz.
Perpetual Motion is an album of nine compositions by Donny McCaslin and the 30-second song “East Bay Grit” by Uri Caine. The music of this album goes toward the avant-garde or free jazz style. The musicians are very talented with their instruments and fit well together. This type of music mostly is a showcase of the individual players’ abilities. Each song is a different surprise and definitely a change in rhythm from one track to the next. I found listening to each song, that the titles fit very well to the kaleidoscope of music and rhythm I was hearing. Particularly in this vein was “Five Hands Down” and “Perpetual Motion”. “Memphis Redux” was very enjoyable with that southern funky back beat. The album winds down with a piano solo on “For Someone”. It could easily be a sort of wandering love song, quiet and pensive. It was really a surprise ending for the album which is just full of surprises, funk and great rhythm from the ensemble.
Perpetual Motion is a quality sound recording. There is only a listing of the musicians and their instruments and acknowledgement of the producers and technicians. Sadly there are no liner notes to show the background of this presentation.
1. Five Hands Down
2. Perpetual Motion
5. Energy Generation
6. Memphis Redux
8. East Bay Grit
9. Impossible Machine
10. For Someone
— Tim Taylor