Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Donny McCaslin: Perpetual Motion

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

The protean tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin touches down on numerous musical platforms on this bristling disc. There’s his probing, modernist “Five Hands Down,” the squirmy space-funk of “Memphis Redux,” and “Firefly,” a deep, pensive cut that begins as a ballad but evolves into something far more churchy thanks to Adam Benjamin’s Fender Rhodes and David Binney’s haunting electronics. Perpetual Motion is fiercely contemporary and exploratory, though not so abstract as to be inaccessible. Binney’s electronica elements and sparkling production evoke hard rock and pop, and those Rhodes timbres, as delivered by Benjamin or Uri Caine, point to fusion. Alternating drummers Antonio Sanchez and Mark Guiliana and bassist Tim Lefebvre propel the album, and the sequencing always honors surprise.

The long tracks are busy, dense with the kind of jazz twists and rock turns listeners became attuned to in the electric Miles and Mahavishnu groups. Dive into “L.Z.C.M.” for the toughest funk-based foray. An homage to influences Led Zeppelin and Christian McBride, it evokes the Herbie Hancock of “Future Shock” while establishing its own groove: The rhythm section is mighty here; McCaslin fatback, jagged and fleet. The man digs into the material, no question, and never runs out of ideas-or passion.

Two tracks give this rich album unexpected depth: the pell-mell, exuberant soundclash “East Bay Grit,” which flashes by in a half-minute, and Caine’s “For Someone,” the haunting ballad that caps the outing. The peacefulness is welcome, since the turbulent trip preceding it is a blast.

Originally Published