Earl MacDonald lives jazz, as a performer, composer and educator. Director of jazz studies at the University of Connecticut, the Winnipeg native earned a bachelor of music degree in jazz performance at McGill University and a master of music degree at Rutgers, where he apprenticed with Kenny Barron. Earl is dedicated to music education, participating as a clinician, guest conductor and teacher at summer camps, in addition to his teaching at the University of Connecticut.
The UConn Chapter of the American Association of University Professors honored MacDonald with its 2006 Excellence Award for Teaching Innovation.
From 1998 to 2000, MacDonald was the musical director, pianist, and arranger for the Maynard Ferguson Big Bop Nouveau Band. As music director he was responsible for programming and rehearsing this world-renowned ensemble. In 2002, MacDonald won the Sammy Nestico Award, for outstanding big band arranging. He has since been selected as a finalist for 2007 BMI / Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Award and the 2008 ArtEZ Composition Contest in the Netherlands. A former participant in the BMI Jazz Composers' Workshop in New York City, MacDonald is a member of the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN).
His compositions for 17-piece jazz ensemble are featured on his latest disc, Re:Visions, as well as UConn Jazz, recorded by the University of Connecticut Jazz Ensemble in 2002. His sextet, the Earl MacDonald 6 won first place in the 2004 Hartford Advocate Reader's Poll for "best jazz group." Their debut recording, Echoes In The Night has received critical acclaim.