Donny McCaslin

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Donny McCaslin
McCaslin at Aarhus Festival, Denmark 2018
McCaslin at Aarhus Festival, Denmark 2018
Background information
Birth nameDonald Paul McCaslin
Born (1966-08-11) August 11, 1966 (age 55)
Santa Clara, California
Years active1978–present
LabelsNaxos, Arabesque, Criss Cross Jazz, Sunnyside, Greenleaf, SkyDeck
Associated actsKen Schaphorst, Gary Burton, Steps Ahead, Maria Schneider, David Bowie, Ryan Dahle

Donald Paul McCaslin (born August 11, 1966) is an American jazz saxophonist. He has recorded over a dozen albums as a bandleader in addition to many sideman appearances, including on David Bowie's final studio album, Blackstar (2016).

Early life[edit]

McCaslin was born in Santa Clara, California, on August 11, 1966.[1] His father was a vibraphonist, and McCaslin played in his father's ensemble at the age of twelve.[1] He had his own group in high school, which played three years at the Monterey Jazz Festival.[1]

Musical career[edit]

Concert at Donostia Jazz Fesstival 2017

In 1987, after studying at Berklee College of Music, McCaslin joined Gary Burton's group and toured the world with him for four years[2].[1] In 1991 he moved to New York City and was a member of Steps Ahead.[1]

In November 2014, McCaslin played saxophone on David Bowie's single "Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)".[1] Subsequently he would play saxophone on Bowie's 2016 album Blackstar.[3]

On October 14, 2016, McCaslin released Beyond Now, inspired by his experience recording Blackstar.[1] The album features the same band that appeared on Blackstar - Tim Lefebvre on bass, Jason Lindner on keyboards, and Mark Guiliana on drums.[4] The album includes two Bowie covers, as well as covers of MUTEMATH, Deadmau5, and The Chainsmokers, plus five original tracks.[4]

NPR's All Songs Considered called McCaslin's "What About the Body" single "exhilarating art-rock".[5] The album it came from, Blow, was awarded New Jazz Album of the Year by JazzJapan.[6]

Grammy nominations[edit]


As leader[edit]

McCaslin in Aarhus, Denmark
  • Exile and Discovery (Naxos, 1998)
  • Seen from Above (Arabesque, 2000)
  • The Way Through (Arabesque, 2003)
  • Soar (Sunnyside, 2006)
  • Give and Go (Criss Cross Jazz, 2006)
  • In Pursuit (Sunnyside, 2007)
  • Recommended Tools (Greenleaf, 2008)
  • Declaration (Sunnyside, 2009)
  • Perpetual Motion (Greenleaf, 2010)
  • Casting for Gravity (Greenleaf, 2012)
  • Fast Future (Greenleaf, 2015)
  • Beyond Now (Motéma, 2016)
  • Blow. (Motéma, 2018)


With Lan Xang[edit]

  • Lan Xang with David Binney, Scott Colley, Jeff Hirschfield (1998)
  • Hidden Gardens with David Binney, Scott Colley, Kenny Wolensen (2000)

With Dave Douglas[edit]

With The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra[edit]

With David Bowie[edit]

As sideman[edit]

  • Thana Alexa, Ode to Heroes (Jazz Village, 2014)
  • Hutchinson Andrew Trio, Prairie Modern (Chronograph, 2013)
  • Fahir Atakoglu, If (Far & Here, 2005)
  • David Binney, Balance (ACT, 2002)
  • Luis Bonilla, Escucha! (Candid, 2000)
  • Luis Bonilla, Trombonilla: Terminal Clarity (Now Jazz Consortium, 2005)
  • Kenny Carr, Idle Talk (CDBaby, 2014)
  • Tia Carrere, Dream (Reprise, 1993)
  • Scott Colley, Portable Universe (Free Lance, 1996)
  • Tyler Collins, Tyler (RCA, 1992)
  • Terence Trent D'Arby, Terence Trent D'Arby's Symphony or Damn (Columbia, 1993)
  • Kenichi Doami, Chronicle (2007)
  • Gene Ess, Sandbox and Sanctum (Simp, 2005)
  • Geggie Trio, Across the Sky (Plunge, 2010)
  • Marshall Gilkes, Sound Stories (Alternate Side, 2012)
  • Hans Glawischnig, Common Ground (Fresh Sound, 2004)
  • Joel Harrison, Search (Sunnyside, 2011)
  • Steve Hass, Traveler (Hassbeat, 2003)
  • Art Hirahara, Central Line (Posi-Tone, 2017)
  • Art Hirahara, Sunward Bound (Posi-Tone, 2018)
  • Julie Lamontagne Trio, Now What (Justin Time, 2009)
  • Michael Leonhart, The Painted Lady Suite (Sunnyside, 2018)
  • Dave Lisik, Coming Through Slaughter: The Bolden Legend (SkyDeck Music, 2009)
  • Dave Lisik, Machaut Man and a Superman Hat (Rattle, 2014)
  • Matthias Lupri, Metalix (Summit, 2006)
  • Hector Martignon, Portrait in White and Black (Candid, 1996)
  • Hector Martignon, The Foreign Affair (Candid, 1998)
  • Bobby McFerrin, Vocabularies (Emarcy, 2010)
  • Kate McGarry, If Less Is More (Palmetto, 2008)
  • Tony Monaco, Master Chops T (Summit, 2002)
  • Monkey House, Left (Alma, 2016)
  • Virgil Moorefield, Distractions On the Way to the King's Party (Cuneiform, 1994)
  • Alon Nechushtan, Venture Bound (Enja, 2014)
  • New York Voices, Sing! Sing! Sing! (Concord Jazz, 2001)
  • Nokko, Call Me Nightlife (Epic, 1993)
  • Nokko, I Will Catch U (Sony, 1993)
  • Danilo Perez, Till Then (Verve, 2003)
  • Enrico Pieranunzi, Proximity (CAM Jazz, 2015)
  • Enrico Pieranunzi, New Spring (CAM Jazz, 2016)
  • Roberta Piket, Unbroken Line (Criss Cross, 1997)
  • Bruno Raberg, Pentimento (Boston Skyline, 1992)
  • Bruno Raberg, Chrysalis (OrbisMusic, 2004)
  • Rachel Z, Room of One's Own (NYC, 1996)
  • Samo Salamon, Stretching Out (Samo, 2013)
  • Antonio Sánchez, New Life (CAM Jazz, 2013)
  • Ken Schaphorst Big Band, Purple (Naxos, 1999)
  • George Schuller, Round 'Bout Now (Playscape, 2003)
  • George Schuller, Like Before Somewhat After (Playscape, 2008)
  • Alex Sipiagin, Mirrors (Criss Cross, 2002)
  • Alex Sipiagin, Out of the Circle (ArtistShare, 2007)
  • Luciana Souza, North and South (Limited Edition 2003)
  • Steps Ahead, Vibe (NYC, 1995)
  • Sun Kil Moon, I Also Want to Die in New Orleans (Caldo Verde, 2019)
  • Gary Versace, Outside In (Criss Cross, 2008)
  • Torben Waldorff, Brilliance (Artistshare, 2006)
  • Torben Waldorff, Afterburn (Artistshare, 2008)
  • Torben Waldorff, American Rock Beauty (Artistshare, 2010)
  • Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr, Landed in Brooklyn (ACT, 2017)
  • Reuben Wilson, Organ Donor (Jazzateria, 1998)
  • Ethan Winogrand, Made in Brooklyn (Clean Feed, 2003)
  • Ethan Winogrand, Half Full (Every Good Song, 2011)
  • WinterFisch Quartet, Timeless (Jazz Sick, 2016)
  • Pavel Wlosok Trio, Alternate Reality (CDBaby, 2014)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Ditzel, Eleanour. "Donny McCaslin: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  2. ^ "Donny McCaslin". Retrieved 2021-11-08.
  3. ^ Chinen, Nate On David Bowie's 'Blackstar,' Turning to Jazz for Inspiration The New York Times. January 5, 2016
  4. ^ a b Pearce, Sheldon David Bowie's Blackstar Band Announces New Album, Shares "A Small Plot of Land" Cover. Pitchfork. July 30, 2016/
  5. ^ "New Mix: M. Ward, David Bowie Saxophonist Donny McCaslin, Sad Baxter, More". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  6. ^ "JazzJapan Award 2018". JazzJapan. 102: 007. March 2019.
  7. ^ "GRAMMYs On The Road With Donny McCaslin And Poncho Sánchez".
  8. ^ a b c "GRAMMY Award Results for Donny McCaslin". Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  9. ^ "Exploring The Jazz Field Nominees".
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2014-03-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Pegg, Nicholas (2016). The Complete David Bowie (Revised and Updated ed.). London: Titan Books. pp. 269–271. ISBN 978-1-78565-365-0.
  12. ^ Pegg, Nicholas (2016). The Complete David Bowie (Revised and Updated ed.). London: Titan Books. pp. 471–472. ISBN 978-1-78565-365-0.

External links[edit]