Friday, September 30, 2016

Donny McCaslin - Beyond Now (2016) MOTÉMA MUSIC

Deeply influenced by the extraordinary experience of collaborating with David Bowie on his final release, 'Blackstar', Donny McCaslin steps forward with 'Beyond Now'. 

Recorded a few months after Bowie's passing, it is a heartfelt dedication to the Starman. Alongside Bowie's 'Last Band' (Jason Lindner, Mark Guiliana, Tim Lefebvre and McCaslin himself), Donny reimagines two Bowie songs, tracks by Deadmau5 and MUTEMATH, plus powerful originals, displaying the rich musicality and innovation that originally led to him working with one of the most creative artists of all time.

"It was like a dream except it was something I never could have dreamed of," reflects McCaslin on working with Bowie. "David Bowie was a visionary artist whose generosity, creative spirit and fearlessness will stay with me the rest of my days. 'Beyond Now' is dedicated to him and to all who loved him."

Comprised of core 'Blackstar' personnel, bassist Tim Lefebvre (Tedeschi Trucks Band, Saturday Night Live), drummer Mark Guiliana (Me'shell Ndegeocello, Brad Mehldau) and Jason Lindner (Now Vs Now), along with guitarist Nate Wood and producer David Binney, 'Beyond Now' is comprised of two Bowie songs, covers of Deadmau5 and MUTEMATH as well as compelling McCaslin originals that include the title composition, inspired by a track inspired by a song McCaslin recorded for 'Blackstar' that didn't make the album.

With three GRAMMY nominations and 11 albums to his name, McCaslin's path to Bowie and 'Beyond Now' can be traced back to 2011 and the release of his album 'Perpetual Motion', taking on an electric direction for the first time in contrast to his previous acoustic projects. Two subsequent albums 'Casting for Gravity' (2012) and 'Fast Future' (2015) released with his working band were directly influenced by electronica artists (covering groups such as Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, and Baths), which netted McCaslin a 2013 GRAMMY nomination for 'Best Improvised Jazz Solo'.

The (as it turned out) once in a lifetime opportunity to work with Bowie came after composer Maria Schneider, a longtime collaborator, recommended McCaslin and his group to Bowie. Schneider and Bowie were collaborating on the track 'Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)', which featured McCaslin as a soloist. In June 2014, Bowie heeded Schneider's advice and made a visit to hear McCaslin and co at the 55 Bar in Greenwich Village. Soon after, Bowie began corresponding with McCaslin over email and sending music, forming a new collaboration and friendship that transpired through the recording of 'Blackstar' until Bowie's passing. The result is 'Beyond Now', which documents the 'Last Band' as they were processing both their grief and Bowie's distinctive impact.

"This new album is an expression of that journey for all of us," says McCaslin. "David allowed 'Blackstar' to be what it was going to be regardless of how people might have categorised it. More than anything, it was his fearlessness in crossing musical boundaries and genres in his music and life that inspired the risks I'm taking in 'Beyond Now'. I am indebted to Bowie for showing me the risks and rewards of going for your uncompromising musical vision."

1 Shake Loose
2 A Small Plot of Land
3 Beyond Now
4 Coelacanth 1
5 Bright Abyss
6 Faceplant
7 Warszawa
8 Glory
9 Remain

Donny McCaslin, tenor sax
Jason Lindner, piano
Tim Lefebvre, bass
Mark Guiliana, drums