Earl MacDonald

Primary Instrument: Composer/conductor

Born: July 26, 1970    

Earl MacDonald

Earl MacDonald lives jazz, as a performer, composer and educator. His latest CD, “Re:Visions – Works for Jazz Orchestra” received a 2011 Canadian Juno Award nomination for “best traditional jazz album of the year” and has been praised consistently by jazz critics. In a review for, Dan Bilawsky stated, “Re:Visions goes beyond where most big bands go, and establishes Earl MacDonald as a major force in the world of jazz composition”. From this album, Earl’s composition, “Bad Dream” was selected as the winner in the jazz song category of the Tenth Annual Independent Music Awards....
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  • Finalist, 2008 ArtEZ Jazz Composition Contest, the Netherlands
  • UConn Research Foundation Large Grant: The Composition & Recording of Original Works for Jazz Orchestra, 2008
  • Finalist, 2007 Charlie Parker / BMI Jazz Composition Award
  • AAUP Excellence Award for Teaching Innovation, 2006
  • “Best Jazz Group,” Hartford Advocate’s Reader’s Poll (the Earl MacDonald 6), 2004
  • New Scholar Award, School of Fine Arts, University of Connecticut, 2004
  • Artist Fellowship, Connecticut Commission on the Arts, 2003
  • AAUP Excellence Award for Teaching Promise, 2003
  • Sammy Nestico Award, sponsored by the Airmen of Note (for outstanding big band jazz arrangement), 2003

“The debut CD of the Earl MacDonald 6, Echoes In The Night, is a classy recording with excellent ensemble playing, interesting arrangements, and well-crafted solos. The ensemble's conceptual approach to its music provides a strong unifying feature throughout the CD and makes for an interesting, as well as, enjoyable listening experience.”

Frank Bongiorno
Saxophone Journal

Sept. / Oct. 2006

“Sea Breeze is fine mainstream label that deserves recognition for putting out Echoes In The Night by the talented pianist Earl MacDonald and his new sextet. The music is nevertheless very ingratiating and delightful, if not startlingly original.”

Budd Kopman
August 2005

“Jazz pianist, educator, & composer Earl MacDonald has assembled six extremely talented players, gifted in the art of expressing jazz with his current CD effort, “Echoes In The Night.” The overall artistic contour of the disc is as smooth as it gets for the bebop idiom...All accented by unexpected counterpoint, & tons of interesting rhythmic variety. I sense an attempt by the group to create a hybrid jazz form. If I'm on the right track, I feel their pursuit is a worthy goal. Last, may I say that the group's extemporaneous musical expression of ideas, emotions, and their life experiences are exemplified quite well in the delivery of their total musical offering.”

George W. Carrol
March 2005

“Jazz mainstreamers will find this music delightfully approachable..... Avant garde lovers will delight in the subtle way these players stray again and again from dyed-in-the-wool generic sounds.”

Paul Lewis
May 2005

The inspired solo work flows from the clever writing contained in Earl MacDonald's charts, and the smooth overall aspect of the music is both swinging and tuneful. Nice sounds with excellent solos and a hip rhythm section.”

Al Merritt

November 2005

The sound of this sextet is unique and if they strived for originality, they achieved it with total success. 4 Stars.”

John Gilbert
March 2005

This group works a well-worn field but they do it with style and intelligence.”

Jerome Wilson
Cadence Magazine
, The Review of Jazz & Blues: Creative Improvised Music
Vol. 31, No. 10. October 2005.


  • Mirror of the Mind

    Death Defying Records
  • Re:Visions

    Death Defying Records
  • Re: Visions

    Death Defying Records
  • Echoes In The Night

    Sea Breeze Jazz

This information is provided by or the profile administrator.

Primary Instrument:

Mansfield Center, CT

Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students

Earl MacDonald teaches at the University of Connecticut. Although he is not currently accepting private students outside of UConn, he has posted several free, online jazz piano and improvisation lessons on his website:

Clinic/Workshop Information:

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CD/LP/Track Review

Mirror of the Mind by Bruce Lindsay

Mirror of the Mind by Edward Blanco

Re:Visions by Woodrow Wilkins

Re: Visions by Edward Blanco

Re: Visions by Dan Bilawsky

Re:Visions by Mark Corroto

Echoes In The Night by Budd Kopman

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