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Vermont Jazz Center Presents: Donny McCaslin Quartet feat. Jason Lindner in A Tribute to David Bowie

Author’s credit: Eugene Uman
Vermont Jazz Center, 802 254 9088,

Donny McCaslin Quartet Featuring Jason Lindner to Perform Bowie Tribute at the Vermont Jazz Center on Saturday, March 24th, 2018 at 8:00 PM

Who: Donny McCaslin Quartet

Musicians: Donny McCaslin, saxophone; Jason Lindner, piano, Fender Rhodes and analog synths; Jonathan Maron, electric bass; Nate Smith, drums

What: Two musicians who collaborated with David Bowie on Blackstar will perform material from that recording as well as new material from their quartet album Beyond Now

When: Saturday, March 24th, 2018 at 8:00 PM

Where: The Vermont Jazz Center, 72 Cotton Mill Hill, #222, Brattleboro, VT 05301

Tickets available: online at, by email at, by phone 802 254 9088, in person at In The Moment, Main St., Brattleboro, VT.

The Vermont Jazz Center Presents the Donny McCaslin Quartet
Performance date – Saturday, March 24th, 2018 at 8:00 PM

The Vermont Jazz Center welcomes innovative composer/saxophonist Donny McCaslin to the stage on March 24th at 8:00 PM. He will perform with his touring quartet that includes Jason Lindner on keyboards, Jonathan Maron of Groove Collective on bass and Nate Wood of Kneebody on drums. McCaslin and Lindner performed on David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, which earned 5 Grammy Awards; it was released two days after Bowie’s death from liver cancer. McCaslin accepted the Grammy for Best Rock Performance on Bowie’s behalf in 2016. In his acceptance speech at the award ceremony, McCaslin stated “the course of my life as an artist and person changed when I met David in the summer of 2014. Working with him introduced me to an artistic genius, a kind man and a funny-as-hell guy. In one email during the early stages of recording Blackstar, he sent me the following message: ‘Donny, the structure of the song is sound, but now we need to throw a penlight beam on the rest like a P.I. scouting a motel room. I’m so excited I just vomited up a 1967 Mercedes.’ That’s how it was with him: collaborative, funny and always ready to try new things.”

McCaslin and Lindner were awed by Bowie’s presence, as well as by the focus and intention he brought to each moment. McCaslin remembers “when he walked in the room there was this real presence about him…he was in the moment and you felt him taking everything in… he was connected with the environment and completely engaged.” McCaslin knew that, as a young man, Bowie had been a big fan of jazz titans Stan Kenton and Gil Evans and that he had just recorded with the Maria Schnieder Jazz Orchestra. After receiving a batch of demo sketches and a green light from Bowie to “go for whatever you’re hearing,” McCaslin arrived at the studio well prepared. He arranged the tunes to include horn lines that utilized the different wind instruments he played (various saxophones and flutes) while keeping in mind the colorful harmonies of the Kenton and Evans orchestras. Jason Lindner then beefed up the sounds by overdubbing keyboard textures, employing nine keyboards and an array of effects. Together the created Bowie’s final masterpiece. To experience the full intensity of this recording check out Bowie’s video of the song “Lazarus” on YouTube. This masterpiece truly demonstrates the brilliance of his concept; one can feel the universal significance of the music and the power and commitment of the band’s interpretation.

McCaslin and Lindner were joined On Blackstar by bandmates Tim Lefebvre on bass and Mark Guiliana on drums. The quartet had worked closely as a team for several years prior to meeting Bowie. In 2012 they recorded the Grammy nominated album Casting for Gravity and in 2015 they released Fast Future. After Bowie’s passing in 2016, they chose to record an album that was inspired by the profound impact they felt working with him. They channeled that inspiration into a heavy jazz-rock album called Beyond Now. In a review of this recording, claims “because of their association with Bowie, the quartet’s [new album] 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 material that McCaslin and Lindner will be presenting at the Jazz Center with bassist Jonathan Maron and drummer Nate Wood. Their quartet draws on their synergetic relationship with Bowie and showcases three of his pieces: “Lazarus” from Blackstar, “Warzawa” from Low and “A Small Plot of Land” from Outside. McCaslin has reminisced about Bowie’s compositions by saying “I think the commonality…is the looseness about those tunes; there’s something about those tunes that makes great bridges between what he did and what we do.” Their repertoire also includes several McCaslin originals and it covers compositions created by Mutemath and Deadmau5.

McCaslin’s music is more architectural than melodic. He is a master of structure who employs sounds and rhythm as building blocks that evolve into deep, mesmerizing grooves. Melody is one of the many components that McCaslin uses in his compositions and arrangements to outline the form and to add beauty. Listeners attuned to this approach can experience the group’s conscious use of rhythm, timbre, chord progressions and motivic development to create elaborate sonic spaces in real-time. Many of the compositions we will hear at the Vermont Jazz Center’s concert will grow and morph until they explode in joyful exuberance.

McCaslin’s advanced conceptual approach hasn’t come out of thin air. At the age of 12 he performed with his father, who is also a professional jazz musician, and in high school put together a group which performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival and toured Europe and Japan. He earned a full scholarship to Berklee School of Music and, as a senior, joined vibraphonist and Berklee faculty member Gary Burton’s ensemble. He later replaced Michael Brecker in Steps Ahead and remained with them for several years. McCaslin has been a member of groups led by George Gruntz, Gil Evans, Maria Schneider, Santi Debriano, Uri Caine, Denilo Perez and many others. He has recorded 12 records as a leader and has appeared on over 300 recordings.

Jason Lindner is a perfect counterpart for McCaslin’s relationship with sound and structure. He is an analog keyboard nerd, a technically adroit pianist and a sonic sculptor. He has led his own big band and was house pianist at Smalls in New York for many years. Lindner comes to keyboards with a strong appreciation for the lineage of jazz by having studied with bebop guru Barry Harris. Lindner has seven albums out as a leader/co-leader and has appeared on over 150 recording projects including discs by Claudia Acuña, Avishai Cohen, Meshell Ndegeocello, Anat Cohen, Omer Avital, Dafnis Prieto, Ben Allison, The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra (Arturo O’Farrill) and others. Lindner discussed his use of analog keyboards and his abilities to mesh them with both jazz and rock-oriented projects in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2015: “genres, to me, are more about energy and the type of feeling you get than technical stuff…Above and beyond a certain level of artistry, genre just falls away completely.”

Jonathan Maron will be playing electric bass with the quartet. He is well-known as the founder of Groove Collective a band that toured internationally and released eight albums including their Grammy-nominated People People Music Music. He can be heard on over 175 recordings including Maxwell’s platinum selling Ascenscion (Don’t Ever Wonder) as well as projects with Meshell Ndegeocello, Tupac Shakur, Shujaat Khan, Dave Douglas, Jewel, Indie Arie, Donny McCaslin, Anoushka Shankar, Kurt Rosenwinkel and many others.

The quartet’s drummer is Nate Wood who graduated from the California Institute of the Art where he studied with Charlie Haden and Joe Labarbara. He is a founding member of the Grammy nominated group Kneebody and has toured the world many times over with pop/rock band The Calling. Nate has performed and/or recorded with artists including George Harrison, Wayne Krantz, Tigran, Donny McCaslin, John Tesh, Chaka Khan, and Sting.
Fans of David Bowie and jazz-rock are in for an unforgettable evening as Donny McCaslin brings his quartet featuring Jason Lindner to the Vermont Jazz Center on March 24th. As Nate Chinen, jazz critic for the New York Times claimes, “The group has a bedrock relationship with groove, but also a genius for permutation.” Their sonic explorations will expand the perimeters of our expectations. The Vermont Jazz Center is especially grateful for the sponsorship of Dave Snyder, owner and engineer of Guilford Sounds Studio. Thanks to Snyder’s generous support, the VJC is able to present this concert at an affordable price. The VJC is also thankful for the ongoing support from the Holiday Inn Express of Brattleboro. VJC publicity is underwritten by the Brattleboro Reformer, WVPR, WVEW, WFCR and Olga Peters of WKVT’s Green Mountain Mornings.
Tickets for the Donny McCaslin Quartet at the Vermont Jazz Center are $20+ general admission, $15 for students with I.D. (contact VJC about educational discounts); available at In the Moment in Brattleboro, or online at, by email at Tickets can also be reserved by calling the Vermont Jazz Center ticket line, 802-254-9088, ext. 1. Handicapped access is available by calling the VJC at 802 254 9088.

Bowie’s Lazarus: