Genre-Bending With the Donny McCaslin Quartet

by Christina Butcher for OLY ARTS

With so much crossover of entertainment, fashion and pop culture in today’s society, it’s almost impossible to make music that fits into a single genre. The Donny MCaslin band, also known as “David Bowie’s last band,” makes no apologies for not even trying to do that. Comprised of saxophonist Donny McCaslin, drummer Mark Guiliana, bassist Tim Lefevbre and keyboardist Jason Lindner, the boundary-breaking quartet will bring a mixture of electronic, jazz, modern rock and pop music to the Minnaert Center for the Performing Arts.

Their performance is part of the South Puget Sound Community College Artist and Lecture Series, which regularly brings an eclectic mix of visual and performing artists to the area. “I always love coming to the Pacific Northwest,” McCaslin told OLY ARTS. “The culture feels like home to me and I enjoy the natural beauty there.”

With a hard-earned reputation for collaborative work and a close relationship with one of the greatest performers of our time, the late David Bowie, it’s no wonder the group was nominated twice for a Grammy award. Their newest album, Beyond Now, is dedicated to Bowie and pays homage to his life and music. The band worked extensively with the late artist on his 25th and final album, Blackstar, which won five Grammy awards last February. Both Beyond Now and Blackstar are widely acclaimed for their genre-bending sounds and mixed influences. McCaslin elaborated on his inspiration for creating music that crosses musical boundaries so freely: “It was a diverse musical environment (that) I grew up in, and that has stayed with me. Those different influences formed my musical DNA, so to speak, and the varied music I’ve chosen and explored over the years is a manifestation of that.”

Before the year is over, the band will have played 32 shows on three continents, an impressive feat for any performer. OLY ARTS asked McCaslin what drives him to keep performing even when exhaustion sets in. “I’m grateful to have these opportunities to play so much right now (that) in terms handling the travel grind, I try and take care of myself as much as possible,” he admitted. “Rest, exercise, eating right, and staying connected to my wife and children are all important to making that happen. Touring substantially with my band is something I always dreamed of as a young musician, so now that more opportunities are here, I’m going for it.”

What: Donny McCaslin Quartet

When:  7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22

Where: Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts,
South Puget Sound Community College,
2011 Mottman Rd. SW, Olympia

How much: $5-$7

Learn more: 360-753-8586 │ Washington Center

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