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Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian
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The saxophone has many languages. Donny has a point that most of them have a New York twang these days. I wouldn't have become much of a player without my years in New York, with so much at your fingertips, many people to learn from, and the love of learning in the very air and water. I can't live in that part of the world anymore, so I'm still trying to make my playing happen outside that environment.
 

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Forum Contributor 2008/Distinguished SOTW Member
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Donny is such a humble guy. I'm not surprised by his words. "How do you play better than those guys... you don't." Exactly. You just play as well as you can and keep at it if you are so inclined.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Donny is such a humble guy. I'm not surprised by his words. "How do you play better than those guys... you don't." Exactly. You just play as well as you can and keep at it if you are so inclined.
I've referred to him elsewhere as a "post-human, freak-of-nature" saxophonist, one of those guys who is just plain TERRIFYING on the horn, and seems to be able to play Whatever The Hell we wants. And yeah, in every interview I've heard, he sounds like a really nice, humble guy...

The first time I heard him live was at an IAJE conference in New York. I was in one of the performance halls waiting for somebody, and there was this tall and gangly and kind of dweeby looking guy (the glasses; and holding the horn off to the side in a way that the Cool NYC Kids didn't do; and playing on a metal Berg, so he clearly didn't know what he the hell he was doing...) about to play.

After about 2 seconds I went "Holy Crap, THAT'S Donny McCaslin!!!"
 

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Yeah. Donny is my favorite of the current crop of tenors out there. I have had chance to take a lesson from him and his approach and humility was just inspiring. He was not only sweet and informative but he shared some personal insight about how he thinks about his playing and is always striving. Some guys come off like they know everything and you are there to bask in their essence. He just knows there is so much more to be done. Anyone who at his stage of the game who listens to his own recording and says (hmmm... I think I should work on something else - this is and that still have some work to be done) is really on the path.
 

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Donny is also one of my favourites. I first heard him on a Mathias Lupri disc that I was given as part of a promotion and in return I was supposed to write a review. My writing skills are about as good as my musical skills so it was pretty brutal and I don't think I gave Donny a fair review (I compared him unfavourably with Mark Turner who had played on Matthias' prior recording). I have come to really like Donny's playing and have several of his recordings in my library including the one mentioned in the article.

It's cool that he mentions the Robertson Davies novel "World of Wonders", that was an interesting read.
 

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Forum Contributor 2016, Distinguished SOTW Member
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Donny was the first sax player I heard at Berklee. I was there visiting my girlfriend who was a student there and she took me to a concert there. It was Donny McCaslin playing tenor and Warren Hill on alto. I believe they played a Steps Ahead tune. Trains or Safari or something like that. This was around 1986. I played alto then and when I heard Warren I thought "Man, this guy is good. He sounds like Sanborn". Then Donny took a solo and totally blew my mind. I thought "That's how I want to play!" He was all over the horn playing stuff I didn't understand. That same night I decided to transfer to Berklee from Ithaca college. I lost about half the credits I had taken because Berklee didn't take music credits in transfers but I didn't care. I wanted to be in Boston.........Donny was just the tip of the iceberg. I got there and immediately heard Seaumus Blake, Mark Turner,Dave Valdez,Mike Sim, Rob Schepps,Chris Speed,Chris Cheek,Tommy Smith...........those were just the students. Everyday I'd hear a new kid that would blow me away. All around my age...........
 

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The Smalls set that Swamp posted is cooking,some exciting music there.I've been enjoing McCaslin's latest disc Perpetual motion too.There's a bit of Brecker in there,but really he is quite a different animal,a very exciting player.
 
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