‘Blackstar’ collaborator to perform at Purdue in April

Donny McCaslin 

 WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Donny McCaslin Quartet, a Grammy Awards-winning jazz ensemble, will perform at Purdue University on April 6 at 8 p.m. in Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse. This performance is presented by Purdue Convocations with support from Dr. Nancy DiMartino and Stephen Borghi.

Ticket holders are invited to attend a pre-show discussion at 7 p.m. with composer, jazz pianist and music educator Judd Danby, and Don Seybold, host of WBAA’s “Inside Jazz” in the Purdue Memorial Union’s Lafayette Room.

McCaslin and his group surged onto the mainstream’s radar in early 2016 with the surprise release of “Blackstar”— David Bowie’s brilliant, shape-shifting and sonically mercurial final album, released just two days before his death. After showing up unannounced to hear McCaslin and his quartet play a set, Bowie handpicked them as his backing band for the “Blackstar” sessions. By turns seductive, somber and slinky, the quartet’s music evolves into as deep a symbol of raucous, ruminative transfiguration on “Blackstar” as Bowie’s evocative lyrics. But the jazz world had long known and celebrated the work of this three-time Grammy nominee, given that McCaslin had staked his claim as a unique fixture of New York’s jazz scene for more than 20 years.

After coming of age in his vibraphonist father’s ensemble at age 12, McCaslin went on to tour with Gary Burton and jazz-fusion outfit Steps Ahead. He has also played beside such diverse, genre-straddling artists as Danilo Pérez, John Medeski, Gil Evans, Maria Schneider and Dave Douglas. Purdue Jazz Festival audiences will know him from his 2014 appearance as a guest soloist with the Purdue Jazz Band. In 1998, McCaslin released “Exile and Discovery,” the first of 11 albums as a bandleader. His latest release, “Fast Future,” features McCaslin’s vision of today’s electro-acoustic jazz sound — a combustible live-wire collection of propulsive rhythms, polyphonic patterns, electronic flourishes, and elasticity into sounds of reggae all driven forward by electronic keyboards, electric bass, and drums. Affirming Bowie’s intuitive choice for the “Blackstar” sessions, producer Tony Visconti called the Donny McCaslin Quartet “some of the best musicians I’ve ever worked with in my life.”

Tickets are $20-$26 depending on seating area in the venue. Tickets are available at the Stewart Center box office at 765-494-3933 or 800-914-SHOW. Group tickets are also available to groups of 10 more by visiting https://purdue.edu/convocations/group-sales/ or calling 765-496-1977.

Initiated in 1902, Purdue Convocations was one of the first professional performing arts presenters in the United States. Each year, Convocations offers the region 30-40 performances of widely varying genres: Broadway-style shows, theater, dance, children’s theater, world music, jazz, and chamber music, along with rock, pop, country and comedy attractions. With a vision for connecting artists and audiences in artistic dialogue and for drawing in academic discourse, Purdue Convocations aims to promote frequent exposure to and familiarity with human cultural expression in a multitude of forms and media.

Source: Abby Eddy/Purdue Convocations director of marketing/ Purdue University News