David Bowie had long wanted to make a record with a jazz band, and on Jan. 8 of last year, he realized his dream with the release of Blackstar. Two days later, he was gone. Donny McCaslin's band helped him make that record, and now, a year later, we pay tribute to Bowie and Blackstar by bringing McCaslin's band to the Tiny Desk.
It's been exciting to see jazz find its way into the broader music world in recent years; think Kendrick Lamar and hip-hop in general. Musicians such as McCaslin often play in their own small circuit, but have much to offer popular music. As a bandleader and sax player, he's put out a dozen albums, the most recent of which is Beyond Now, with musicians Tim Lefebvre on bass, drummer Mark Guiliana and keyboardist Jason Lindner.
Beyond Now was recorded after Blackstar, features a few Bowie covers and stretches the band's own usual boundaries. For this Tiny Desk concert, you can hear an extraordinary group playing extraordinary music — including an instrumental version of "Lazarus," from Blackstar. Just as Bowie brought these musicians into his rock-leaning world, I hope this set takes you down McCaslin's jazz path.