Born: July 26, 1970 Primary Instrument: Composer/conductor
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 AllAboutJazz.com, 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.
Earl was the musical director, pianist, and arranger for the Maynard Ferguson Big Bop Nouveau Band from 1998 to 2000. As music director he was responsible for programming and rehearsing this world-renowned ensemble. In 2002, MacDonald won the Sammy Nestico Award, for outstanding big band arranging. Earl was selected as a finalist for 2007 Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Award during his affiliation with the BMI Jazz Composer’s Workshop in New York City. He also appeared as an international finalist for the 2008 and 2011 ArtEZ Composition Contest in the Netherlands.
Currently Associate Professor and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Connecticut, the Winnipeg native earned a bachelor of music degree in jazz performance at McGill University and a master of music degree at Rutgers, where he apprenticed with Kenny Barron. Earl is dedicated to music education, participating as a clinician, guest conductor and teacher at summer camps, in addition to his teaching at the University of Connecticut. The UConn Chapter of the American Association of University Professors honored MacDonald with its 2006 Excellence Award for Teaching Innovation and 2003 Teaching Promise awards.
Earl's piece, Wanton Spirit was the title track for Kenny Barron's 1994 Grammy-nominated CD. More recently, his compositions for 17-piece jazz orchestra have been performed by the Airmen of Note, the Westchester Jazz Orchestra, the Millennium Jazz Orchestra, and university-based jazz ensembles from the Eastman School of Music, the University of North Texas, Rutgers, McGill, Rowan University, Lawrence University, Grant MacEwan University, Amherst College, the University of Manitoba and the University of Louisville, among others.
For his work as musical director and composer-in-residence of the Hartford Jazz Society’s “New Directions Ensemble”, MacDonald earned the votes of Hartford Advocate readers and won the distinction “best jazz group in Hartford” in the 2011 Grand Band Slam.
Visit Earl’s web site, www.earlmacdonald.com, where you can read reviews, hear and purchase music, take a free online lesson, peruse Earl’s blog, and learn more about his performances, teaching, and latest projects.
- Finalist, 2008 ArtEZ Jazz Composition Contest, the Netherlands
- UConn Research Foundation
Grant: The Composition & Recording of Original Works
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
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.
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
George W. Carrol
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.
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.
The sound of this sextet is unique and if they strived for originality, they achieved it with total success. 4 Stars.
works a well-worn field but they do it with style and
Cadence Magazine, The Review of Jazz & Blues: Creative Improvised Music
Vol. 31, No. 10. October 2005.
|the Earl MacDonald
6, Echoes In
*^ SeaBreeze records: SB- 3072
features: Dick Oatts (as), Joe Magnarelli (trpt), Steve Davis (tbn),
Dave Santoro (b), Tom Melito (dr).
recorded: January 2004. Live, concert recording.
featuring Earl MacDonald with special guest Jerry Bergonzi
* ^ SeaBreeze Vista: SBV- 4450
recorded: April 2002.
Michael Feinstien with the Maynard Ferguson Big Band, Big City Rhythms.
+ Concord Records, Inc.: CCD- 4869- 2
recorded: August 1999 at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA.
Jim Brenan, Jim Brenan
# independent release: 3BCD-01
MacDonald, Schroeder’s Tantrum.|
* Radioland: RACD 10008
features: Ralph Bowen (ts), Kevin Dean (trpt),
Mike Downes (b), Ted Warren (dr).
recorded: June 1996.
Kenny Barron, Wanton Spirit.
# Verve 522 364-2.
Kenny Barron (piano), Charlie Haden (bass) and Roy Haynes (drums).
The title track, "Wanton Spirit" was composed by Earl MacDonald.
recorded: February 1994.
• nominated for a Grammy award.
* appears as performer, composer, arranger
+ appears as performer
# appears as composer, arranger
^ appears as director and / or conductor
~ appears as co-producer, performer, arranger
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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: http://earlmacdonald.com/jazz-education.html
Last Updated: November 15, 2013
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