Taking time out from his work with Maria Schneider’s Orchestra, tenor saxist Donny McCaslin took a major step forward from his work with and dedicated to the late David Bowie and delivered an exciting 70 minute set of fresh new material that begs to be recorded and distributed. The only question is how the emitted energy from the Monday night concert can be captured digitally.
Teamed with Jason Lindner/p-key, Jonathan Maron/dr and Nate Wood/eb, McCaslin came out of the gates running like a stallion, with the working titled “Lyrical” true to name, but in the saxist’s hands quickly turned into a passionate stampede, complete with tensile keyboard snaps as McCaslin’s horn mixed voluminous echoes with floating nimbus clouds of sound.
The following “Sufjian” had the rhythm team create restless grooves and cadences as McCaslin’s agonizing and melancholic arias oozed through the pulse like volcanic lava.While it seemed that McCaslin was about to spontaneously combust, he simply flipped the musical switch to create a hairpin turn and end the song on an avalanche of a climax.
The upbeat and funky “Club Kid” had both Maron and McCaslin take turns at hip vocals, with Lindner’s floating electronic sounds teaming with the catchy stop-start melody to add up to an infectious toe tapper. Lindner then took charge with an indulgence at the synth and keyboards, creating a Kraftwerk-like atmosphere of sounds resembling anything from space landings to motorcycle races before popping the clutch and forming a gentle pulse as Moran and Wood created an 3rd World lilt to the brooding “Tokyo.” McCaslin’s 4 note pattern of long tones brooded over the horizon before breaking free into an impassioned improvisation.
The closing “Beast” mixed complex and extroverted sax overtones teaming with electronic splashes, the two relentlessly arm wrestled as the rhythm team galloped like a herd of Bison. The staccato’d sax locked horns with Maron’s drums to form a trajectory of musical energy as well as a rousing conclusion to the evening’s first set. Anyone got a recording machine handy?