2018 album. Saxophonist and his band who backed David Bowie on 'Blackstar' Guests Mark Kozelek, Gail Ann Dorsey, Jeff Taylor and Ryan Dahle. Also available in Vinyl.
Donny McCaslin is releasing his new album ‘Blow’. Days before his January 2016 death, David Bowie released his final album, ‘Blackstar’. While the record represented an endpoint for the legendary artist, it marked a new beginning for jazz lifer Donny McCaslin who, armed with his saxophone and the distinctive sound of his band, played a key role in defining ‘Blackstar’s visionary stylistic fusion.
Now, two and a half years after ‘Blackstar’s release, McCaslin returns with a new album, ‘Blow.’, a new definitive statement that fully realizes Bowie’s influence and McCaslin’s evolved artistic direction. “Before working with him, things like this didn’t seem possible to me,” McCaslin says of ‘Blow.’, the most daring work of his two-decade, Grammy-nominated career. “The affirmation of that project and how wonderfully that turned out artistically - I feel like anything is possible now.”
‘Blow.’s vision is supported by a top-notch cast of musicians that includes vocal collaborations with Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek, fellow Bowie collaborator Gail Ann Dorsey, longtime collaborator Jeff Taylor and singersongwriter Ryan Dahle (Limblifter, Mounties), paired with ‘Blackstar’ bandmates Tim Lefebvre, Jason Lindner and Mark Guiliana. “The idea was to just really go for exploring these collaborations and documenting everything,” explains McCaslin, adding that the project had a “good gestation process” and developed “in a way that didn't feel rushed.”
According to McCaslin, the natural progression that led to ‘Blow.’ began with 2016’s ‘Beyond Now’, which was ‘the seed’ for ‘Blow.’ and featured a combination of originals (written after ‘Blackstar’s recording but before Bowie’s death), as well as covers of Bowie, Mutemath and Deadmau5.
McCaslin emphasizes ‘Blow.’s ‘wide range of moods’, some of which will sound familiar to longtime McCaslin fans. Others not so much, as they span prog and art rock, downtempo quiet storm, instrumentals influenced by Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest and more. Naturally, McCaslin’s horn unites ‘Blow.’s disparate elements, though not in the way one might expect. Thinking back to the ‘Blackstar’ sessions, McCaslin remembers how Bowie urged him to manipulate his instrument’s sound, to create “different loops and textures” while improvising. “That really stuck with me,” says McCaslin. “It’s such a big part of what I’m doing now, how I integrate the electronics and the saxophone.”