Because of their association with Bowie, the quartet's Beyond Now will get attention from a wider range of music fans than a jazz album normally would. But this record warrants attention on its own merits because it showcases the exciting, genre-blurring sound of a sophisticated band coming into its own. .
This is the powerful left-field New York jazz band that played on David Bowie’s Blackstar, fronted by saxophonist Donny McCaslin, who’s due at the London jazz festival on 15 Nov. Though McCaslin is a sought-after improvising jazz saxist with a rugged post-Coltrane sound, his dedication to Bowie represents that niche of rock and hip-hop-influenced jazz that is rooted in the accumulation of repeated hooks against rhythm-section crescendos of rising heat. McCaslin’s plaintively curt motifs and split notes pitched against buffeting synth-chords and Mark Guiliana’s polyrhythmic drumming sets the agenda on Shake Loose.
Not long after the release of Blackstar, saxophonist Donny McCaslin’s jazz group became internationally famous as the collective that had helped David Bowie create his last triumph in the studio. The flexibility of McCaslin’s playing—as well as that of bassist Tim Lefebvre, drummer Mark Guiliana, and keyboardist Jason Lindner—allowed tracks like “Lazarus” to juggle a variety of moods and textures, without ever straying too far from the underlying motifs. In the aftermath of Bowie’s death, the band gave interviews about Bowie’s working methods, and also bade him farewell with a set at New York’s fabled Village Vanguard club.