Critically acclaimed saxophonist and composer Donny McCaslin showcases his “roof-raising” talents Friday, February 25 at 8 p.m. at the Lawrence Memorial Chapel as part of the 2010-11 Lawrence University Jazz Series. McCaslin will be joined by the Lawrence Brass.

Tickets, at $22-20 for adults, $19-17 for seniors, and $15-17 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office in the Music-Drama Center, 420 E. College Ave., Appleton or by calling 920-832-6749.

Donny McCaslin

“Donny McCaslin definitely belongs in any discussion of top jazz saxophonists like Chris Potter and others,” said tubist Marty Erickson, a member of the Lawrence Brass. “He is very comfortable playing hard funk and a kind of high-energy post-bebop, but he also can render a ballad with the best of them.”

One of the pieces The Lawrence Brass will perform with McCaslin will be from his 2009 CD “Declarations,” which was ranked 12th on a list of favorite jazz CDs of 2009 by the website The Jazz Spectrum.

Described by Jazz Times as a “versatile” musician who plays with a “fluidity and grace,” McCaslin first picked up the tenor saxophone at the age of 12 and
participated in the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival’s California All-Star band while still in high school. After attending the Berklee College of Music, McCaslin toured with The Gary Burton Quintet for four years.

Based in New York since 1991, McCaslin has turned heads with his solo work in ensembles such as the Maria Schneider Orchestra and the Ken Schaphorst Big Band. He earned a 2004 Grammy Award nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for his work on the album “Concert in the Garden.”

McCaslin’s Feb. 25 concert will mark a return to Appleton. He previously performed as principal soloist on former Lawrence jazz studies director Ken Schaphorst’s composition “Uprising,” a big-band work that has its world premiere performed in the spring of 1996 by the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble. The piece was later released on Schaphorst’s CD “Purple,” with McCaslin’s work winning rave reviews from the jazz media.

His discography features eight recordings as a leader, including the horn-infused “Declarations,” as well as many important sideman credits with the likes of fellow saxophonist David Binney, drummers Johnathan Blake and Antonio Sanchez and bassist Scott Colley.