Thursday, June 6, 2013

Colin MacDonald's 'Circle of Wind'

The saxophone usually is associated with jazz; even a moderately informed jazz listener can name some of the great saxophonists, such as Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, etc.

Colin MacDonald (the hirsute Canadian saxophone player, not the hirsute Canadian rock musician) makes a good case for the saxophone as a modern classical instrument on his recording Circle of Wind.

Informed by his study of Zen, yoga and the I Ching and by his interest in the gamelan and in minimalist composers, Circle of Wind features MacDonald on sax in a variety of settings, including solo, with a pianist, as part of a saxophone quartet, with a cellist and with a "choir" of 11 saxophones, with all of the pieces penned by MacDonald.

So what did I think? I bought this without telling MacDonald after meeting him in a nonmusical context, figuring that if I didn't like it I would never have to tell him. But I did like it. The term "minimalist" sometimes inspires a feeling of dread, but MacDonald provides enough variety in melody and settings to keep things interesting. I've listened to the album quite a few times.

I bought my copy from Amazon -- I love the way Amazon automatically back up everything I buy on the site's cloud player -- but MacDonald points out that if you buy direct, you can get a CD or you get get FLAC files or high fidelity MP3s with PDF liner notes and artwork.

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