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Donny McCaslin Trio: Recommended Tools

If you’re a saxophonist making an album with just a bassist and a drummer, you need to be on from start to finish, you’d better have a lot to say, and you’d be wise to make sure your sidemen are up to the task. Tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin goes three-for-three on those counts with Recommended Tools.

With a tough, taut tone, McCaslin tears into nine originals and Billy Strayhorn’s “Isfahan.” McCaslin’s approach is melodic, but he plays with a fiery touch. This is his first recording in a trio setting, and his playing feels freer than in the past. For one thing, the absence of chords on several tunes is noticeable. Or if he did compose some of the songs with chords in mind, they’re hidden beneath his simple lines and the sparse strumming of bassist Hans Glawischnig.

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