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Earl MacDonald Earl MacDonald

The pursuit of excellence in his musical knowledge and craft is a crucial facet of Earl MacDonald’s persona. His unwavering diligence and seemingly inexhaustible commitment to the jazz art form are apparent in his performing, writing and teaching.

MacDonald is set to release his fifth album as a bandleader — “Open Borders.” For this project, the two-time JUNO-award nominee assembled a lean and mean 10-piece band, capable of capturing the intimate subtleties of a jazz combo, or packing the walloping punch of a full big band. In an age where divisions are often highlighted more than commonalities, Open Borders illustrates the effectiveness and beauty that comes from bringing together people of different backgrounds, life experiences, perspectives and skillsets, to openly collaborate.

MacDonald’s last two CDs received JUNO nominations for jazz album of the year. For his chamber jazz explorations on “Mirror of the Mind”, MacDonald was described as “a magical, musical alchemist of hip hybrids” (Owen McNally, Hartford Courant). Similarly, his large ensemble project, “Re:Visions” was described as having “gone beyond where most big bands go, establishing Earl MacDonald as a major force in the world of jazz composition” (Dan Bilawsky, 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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Album Review
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”Mirror Of The Mind, from pianist Earl MacDonald and the Creative Opportunity Workshop, is an album that surprises and delights—from the unusual piano, cello, sax and percussion line-up to the mix of styles and inspirations that influence MacDonald's writing.” — Bruce Lindsay, All About Jazz, November 2013

”Mirror of the Mind is another great installment in the interesting, endeavors and ever growing catalog of pianist/composer Earl MacDonald. Chamber Jazz at its best.” — H. Allen Williams, Jazz Times, November 2013

”Pianist Earl MacDonald succeeds in carving out a brand new niche for himself separating his past from this new vision of jazz yet to be clearly defined

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Primary Instrument




Willing to teach

Intermediate to advanced


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

MacDonald has enjoyed guest conducting opportunities with a wide range of ensembles including the U.S.A.F. Airmen of Note, the BMI-New York Jazz Orchestra, the UConn Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra, university jazz ensembles at North Texas, Northern Illinois, Rutgers, the University of Manitoba, and Amherst College, as well as regional high school honor ensembles throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut, and the MENC All-Eastern Jazz Ensemble. He works as an adjudicator and clinician at educational jazz festivals, in- service conferences, and summer camps across Canada and the United States.



Album Open Borders by Earl MacDonald

Open Borders

Death Defying Records

Album Open Borders by Earl MacDonald

Open Borders

Death Defying Records

Album Quintet Matinee by Earl MacDonald

Quintet Matinee

University of Connecticut

Album Mirror of the Mind by Earl MacDonald

Mirror of the Mind

Death Defying Records

Album Re:Visions by Earl MacDonald


Death Defying Records

Album Re: Visions by Earl MacDonald

Re: Visions

Death Defying Records




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