Donny McCaslin

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Donny McCaslin (born August 11, 1966) is an American jazz saxophonist.

Early life[edit]

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.[1] 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[edit]

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[1] 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.

McCaslin performs in New-York regularly with Antonio Sánchez, David Binney, Dekel Bor, Scott Colley, Danilo Pérez and others.

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.

In November 2014, McCaslin played tenor and soprano saxophone on David Bowie's single "Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)." Subsequently he would play saxophone on Bowie's 2016 album Blackstar.[2]

Grammy nominations[edit]



  • 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

With The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra

With David Bowie

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


Allaboutjazz: Dekel Bor feat. Donny McCaslin

External links[edit]