Donny McCaslin's Blackstar Quartet
Ars Nova Workshop is pleased to present saxophonist Donny McCaslin and his quartet, which became the backing band for Blackstar, David Bowie’s final recording.
Melding modern jazz with influences from the innovative electronica of artists like Aphex Twin, Deadmau5 and MUTEMATH, McCaslin’s quartet has increasingly defied genre expectations over their last several releases. That fact, along with McCaslin’s standout saxophone work on Bowie’s collaboration with bandleader/composer Maria Schneider, brought McCaslin and company to the attention of the late rock icon. The impact of that once-in-a-lifetime experience continues to be felt on the band’s latest release, Beyond Now, which features covers of two Bowie songs (both originally collaborations with producer Brian Eno) along with McCaslin’s bold originals and jazz renditions of electronic music.
Reviewing Blackstar for Billboard Magazine, Jody Rosen wrote that “the rumble, snarl and screech of the music… is as potent as any [Bowie] has produced in quite some time... to call this album jazz is as wrong as it would be to call it art rock, or funk, or electronica -- though all of those styles and more are stirred into the mix. Blackstar is unmistakably a band record, showcasing a talented group of musicians who are comfortable navigating the songs' harmonically twisty byways.”
McCaslin is no stranger to playing on the far horizons of jazz. He began his career playing alongside fusion pioneers, working with Headhunters bassist Paul Jackson and replacing Michael Brecker in Steps Ahead. He joined the Dave Douglas Quintet in 2006 and has been a key member of the Maria Schneider Orchestra throughout that revered ensemble’s history. With three Grammy nominations and 11 albums to his name, McCaslin’s path to Bowie and Beyond Now can be traced back to 2011 with the release of his album Perpetual Motion, taking on an electric direction for the first time in contrast to his previous acoustic projects. Two subsequent albums -- Casting for Gravity (2012) and Fast Future (2015) -- released with his working band were directly influenced by electronica artists.
Ars Nova Workshop is pleased to present the return of Noveller, the solo electric guitar project of composer Sarah Lipstate, in celebration of "A Pink Sunset For No One,” her eighth studio album.
Pitchfork writes that Lipstate’s “pitch-warped melodies bubble and coalesce into a creeping latticework of booming bass, twitchy drones, and slurred guitar leads… [moving] from pointillist detail to hazy heaviness.”
Noveller has toured with Iggy Pop, St. Vincent, Radiolab, Xiu Xiu, the Jesus Lizard, U.S. Girls, & Aidan Baker. Lipstate has collaborated with several renowned musicians, including JG Thirlwell (Foetus, Manorexia), Carla Bozulich (Evangelista, The Geraldine Fibbers), David Wm. Sims (the Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid) and Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth). She has previously performed as a member of Cold Cave, Parts & Labor, and One Umbrella. Lipstate has also participated in Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Army, Ben Frost’s “Music for 6 Guitars” Ensemble, and Glenn Branca’s 100 guitar ensemble.
Ars Nova Workshop is a Philadelphia nonprofit jazz and experimental music presenting organization. ANW informs, inspires, and challenges listeners to elevate the role of jazz, improvisation, and experimental music in contemporary culture. ANW events provide a forum for discourse, emergent trends in contemporary music, and unique forms of cultural exchange, while nurturing a diverse community for innovative music.