DONNY MCCASLIN | London, The Jazz Cafe

Donny McCaslin’s Sunday evening appearance at The Jazz Cafe is the latest in a growing trend amongst its listings in which artists who could readily fill (and previously have filled) Ronnie Scott’s (Roy Hargrove, The Bad Plus) instead filling a venue in which its audience have the room to react with more than appreciative head nods: hips can shake; bodies can groove.  In the case of McCaslin’s galactic explorations, they were also enriched for being cast in shades of interstellar purple and shards of splintering light cast from above.

Layers of synthesisers, manipulated and wrestled by pianist Jason Lindner, conjured other worldly gurlglings.  When McCaslin reached for the stratosphere at the peak of a solo it was the crunching keyboards beneath with which he combusted, whilst ricocheting off the rocket fuel of Zach Danzinger’s drums.  On ‘Beast’, a piece composed in the wake of the American election, McCaslin’s tenor snarled and growled in the lower registers before breaking from its manacles and ravishing the full range.  McCaslin’s threatening ‘grabs’ and saxophone lunges are immeasurably more appetising than the POTUS they mock.  His tenor lines simmer from brooding to boiling with a technique that  enthralled an audience who found themselves transported on an intense ride of exploration and wicked sense of adventure.

McCaslin’s profile continues to ride the crest of stardom from his collaboration with David Bowie on Blackstar.  The meeting of two powerful musical minds synthesised into a chapter of startling creativity, only too brief in its Earthly-dwelling.  McCaslin’s quartet continue to burn bright in tribute and celebration of what might been to come.


Snap up the last of the tickets for The Bad Plus at the Jazz Cafe on 24.11.

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