Work with David Bowie inspires first-time JazzFest performer

American saxophonist looks forward to his first Victoria JazzFest

Donny McCaslin, an accomplished saxophonist with three Grammy nominations and 11 albums to date, has attracted further recognition over the past year after leading David Bowie’s jazz ensemble for his third and final album, Blackstar. McCaslin credits much of the inspiration for his own album Beyond Now to time spent with Bowie. Developed only months after the star’s passing, the album features five original songs and covers of DeadMau5, MUTEMATH, The Chainsmokers and Bowie songs.

McCaslin says Bowie’s unique Blackstar sound subconsciously made its way into his own recordings last year. The artist influenced McCaslin enormously during their time recording Blackstar and after his passing in January 2016.

“[Working with Bowie] inspired me creatively, and I learned a lot from his intuitiveness and his fearlessness as an artist,” McCaslin said. “He was present in every moment. He would really go for his uncompromising vision.”

McCaslin said, “That music was still very present in my mind when we recorded Beyond Now, six months after David had passed. His passing was devastating, emotionally, and it lent a level of feeling to my recording.” He set out to achieve what he called “the same level and depth” as Blackstar in Beyond Now, and dedicated the project to Bowie.

Now, McCaslin says, he takes no moments for granted. Since he was young, the musician has dreamed of leading his own band and today cherishes the time he has to record and tour. The Donny McCaslin tour group includes Nate Wood on bass, Jason Lindner on keyboards, Mark Guiliana on drums and McCaslin on saxophone.

While McCaslin has visited Vancouver half a dozen times, this will be his first show in Victoria, where he will perform tracks from Beyond Now, a number from his previous electro-records, and several Bowie songs.

“I’ve travelled a lot over the years and I’ve been to a lot of places. It’s not a cliche – it is a real pleasure and I’m really excited to come to Victoria,” McCaslin said. He hopes to take a few moments from his busy tour schedule to explore the Greater Victoria region.

Purchase tickets to the June 25 show at The Victoria Jazz Society, #202-345 Quebec St; Lyle’s Place, 770 Yates St; Royal & McPherson Box Office, 3 Centennial Square. The concert starts at 8 p.m. at the Dave Dunnet theatre.

Oak Bay News