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Donny McCaslin (born August 11, 1966) is an American jazz saxophonist.
McCaslin's father was a vibraphonist, and he played in his father's ensemble at the age of twelve. He had his own group in Aptos High School which played three years at the Monterey Jazz Festival. He studied under Paul Contos and Brad Hecht in the San Francisco region, both of whom played in his father's group. He played in a number of youth ensembles, including under the band director and music educator Don Keller and toured Europe and Japan with them; he was offered a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music, where he enrolled in 1984. While there he was influenced by Gary Burton, Herb Pomeroy, Billy Pierce, George Garzone, and Joe Viola. McCaslin performed regularly in Boston and Cambridge with The True Colors Big Band, run by composer Ken Schaphorst.
Later life and career
In 1987 McCaslin joined Burton's group and toured the world with him for four years. In 1991 he moved to New York City and was a member of Steps Ahead until 1994, replacing Michael Brecker. He also played with the Gil Evans Orchestra, the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, Danilo Perez, Maria Schneider, and Santi DeBriano. In 1996 he played on Ken Schaphorst's Uprising, alongside John Medeski, Doug Yates, and Uri Caine. The following year he played with David Binney, Scott Colley, and Kenny Wolleson on the collaboration Lan Xang. In 2006 he joined the Dave Douglas Quintet. In 2010 he recorded as a featured soloist on the CD Coming Through Slaughter - The Bolden Legend.
His first record as a leader appeared in 1998, Exile and Discovery, and he has continued issuing releases under his own name recording eleven solo albums up to his latest, Fast Future in 2015. All his early albums were acoustic, however his latest three employ electronic effects.
McCaslin has continued to play as a sidemen in numerous jazz bands, including Dave Douglas and Maria Schneider. As of 2016 he has played as a sideman on over two dozen jazz albums.
- 2004 nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo
- 2013 nomination for Best Improvised Jazz Solo
- "Stadium Jazz" on Donny McCaslin's Casting for Gravity — lost to Wayne Shorter's "Orbits"
- 2015 nomination for Best Improvised Jazz Solo
- "Arbiters Of Evolution" on Maria Schneider's The Thompson Fields
- Exile and Discovery (Naxos, 1998)
- Seen from Above (Arabesque, 2000)
- The Way Through (Arabesque, 2003)
- Give and Go (Criss Cross Jazz, 2006)
- Soar (Sunnyside, 2006)
- In Pursuit (Sunnyside, 2007)
- Recommended Tools (Greenleaf Music, 2008)
- Declaration (Sunnyside, 2009)
- Perpetual Motion (Greenleaf Music, 2010)
- Casting for Gravity (Greenleaf Music, 2012)
- Fast Future (Greenleaf Music, 2015)
- Lan Xang - Lan Xang with David Binney, Scott Colley, Jeff Hirschfield, 1998
- Lan Xang - Hidden Gardens with David Binney, Scott Colley, Kenny Wolensen, 2000
With Dave Douglas
- Concert in the Garden (ArtistShare, 2004)
- Sky Blue (ArtistShare, 2007)
- The Thompson Fields (ArtistShare, 2015)
With David Bowie
- Blackstar (ISO, 2016)
As a Sideman (By Year)
- Ken Schaphorst Big Band - Purple - 1999
- Ethan Winogrand - Made in Brooklyn - 2003
- Hans Glawischnig - Common Ground - 2004
- Gene Ess - Sandbox and Sanctum - 2005
- Mathias Lupri - Metallix - 2006
- Torben Waldorf - Brilliance - 2006
- George Schuller - Like Before Somewhat After - 2008
- Alex Sipiagin - Out of the Circle - 2008
- Gary Versace - Outside In - 2008
- Torben Waldorf - Afterburn - 2008
- Nathan Edlund - Trip to the Casbah - 2009
- Julie Lamontagne Trio - Now What - 2009
- Geggie Trio - Across the Sky - 2010
- Torben Waldorf - American Rock Beauty - 2010
- Marshall Gilkes - Sound Story - 2012
- Hutercherson Andrew Trio - Prairie Moderns - 2013
- Antonio Sanchez - New Life - 2013
- Alon Nechushtan - Venture Bound - 2014
- Enrico Pieranuzi - Proximity - 2016
- Ditzel, Eleanour. "Donny McCaslin: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- Chinen, Nate On David Bowie’s ‘Blackstar,’ Turning to Jazz for Inspiration New York Times. January 5, 2016
- David Bowie's musician list for "Sue (or In A Season Of Crime)"
- Musicians for David Bowie's album Blackstar