Pianist-composer Earl MacDonald isn’t one to rest on his laurels. His new recording, “Mirror of the Mind” embodies his ongoing search for new ways to express himself through his music, while challenging the defining boundaries of jazz. By drawing upon outside influences and incorporating cello into his ensemble palette, MacDonald has again achieved the element of surprise for which reviewers have called him “visionary” and “startlingly original.”
The album features MacDonald’s latest band, the Creative Opportunity Workshop. C.O.W.'s unique instrumentation (cello, saxophone, piano and percussion) was chosen as a means to escape the predictability, established parameters and creative confines found in the more typical jazz instrumentations. The combination is stunning.
Earl MacDonald – piano
Christopher Hoffman – cello
Kris Allen – saxophones
Rogerio Boccato – percussion
MacDonald is known to look to other musical styles for inspiration and “to keep things fresh”. Within jazz, this practice dates back to Jelly Roll Morton, and is seen in Dizzy Gillespie's association with Chano Pozo as well as John Coltrane's infatuation with Indian music. With C.O.W., Earl has amalgamated a wide spectrum of influences, including Brahms, Schumann, Earle Brown, the Beatles, folk music from various cultures, Johnny Mandel, Chick Corea, Ornette Coleman and Nat Cole. The results have lead reviewers to speculate that Earl may be forging a “new hybrid jazz form.” With musicality and without pretense, MacDonald pushes forward the progressive trajectory of his idiom.
Earl MacDonald currently serves as the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Connecticut. He was formerly the pianist and musical director with Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau band. His last CD, “Re:Visions – Works for Jazz Orchestra” received a 2011 Canadian Juno Award nomination for “traditional jazz album of the year.” Among other distinctions, he has won the Sammy Nestico Award for big band arranging, and the jazz song category of the 2011 Independent Music Awards.
For further information, visit www.earlmacdonald.com where MacDonald has published extensive online liner notes for the album.