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Donny McCaslin: In a Different Place

Collaborating with David Bowie on his final recording has irrevocably changed Donny McCaslin's life and music

Donny McCaslin
Donny McCaslin (with John Patitucci) at the 2018 Monterey Jazz Festival (Photo: Craig Lovell/Monterey Jazz Festival)

Around 10:30 p.m. Pacific time on Saturday, September 22, 2018, tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin and his band—vocalist/guitarist Jeff Taylor, keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Tim Lefebvre, and drummer Zach Danziger—walked onstage at the Monterey Jazz Festival. They opened their headlining set with an original song, “What About the Body,” sung by Taylor. McCaslin started the tune on his effects-laden horn, stuttering a chunky riff before the rest of the band joined with a heavy rock beat. And then the saxophonist, who has been a regular on the Monterey stage for the past three-and-a-half decades, did something he has never done before in all those appearances: He sang.

For the song’s chorus, McCaslin stepped up to the second microphone, his right hand covering his ear to aid in the precision of his harmonies. “Left wing, right wing, what about the body?” he hollered with a big smile on his face.

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