Community Immunity, the title of saxophonist and composer Curtis Macdonald's debut album (Greenleaf Recordsת/5/11), may seem to be just a clever play on words, but to the artist, being a member of a community is vital to the creation of his art. Whether he's in his current home of New York City or Alberta, Canada, where he grew up, Macdonald always strives to keep his sense of place in mind. So too does Macdonald view the world of music as a community.
I feel fortunate to be a part of a community filled with enormously talented musicians," he says. The many featured on this recording are close friends and cherished collaborators whom I hold lasting relationships with. When I compose, I write with them in mind."
Macdonald has been informed by several artistic practices as part of his quest for a broader context in which to present his work. Growing up next to one of the most desirable artistic communities in North America, the Banff Centre for the Arts has unmistakably left a lasting impact on his philosophy on the creation of music.
The Centre is a carefully balanced, fertile environment tailored exclusively for community development within the arts," Macdonald says. 'The international population of artists it attracts fosters a unique cross-pollination of disciplines that serves as a catalyst for innovative thought. Its resources are immense. The conversations I continue to have with musicians, choreographers, filmmakers, sculptors, engineers, mathematicians and digital artists whom I've met in Banff over the years constantly influence the music I produce. In my home in Brooklyn, I work to continue this experience as much as possible by researching these many disciplinesgenres of creativity, if you willand collaborating with others as much as circumstance permits."
Macdonald has been subject to a wide-ranging education in music across numerous apprenticeships beyond the walls of the traditional conservatory. He graduated cum laude from the New School University in 2007 where he immediately became part-time faculty of Sound Design at Parsons, the New School for Design. Through his research of sound, acoustics and digital audio processes, Macdonald has begun to exploit natural aural phenomena within his compositions, such as binaural beating in the form of a modified rhythmic vibrato heard in his piece Childhood Sympathy." Macdonald's inner-scientist affords him a technical understanding of the sonic landscape from which to draw his music. The saxophone is a perfect wind instrument for such endeavors, with its abundant expressive capabilities akin to the human voice. No better suited for its flight is Macdonald, who first picked it up when he was seven and began performing in public at the age of nine.
Macdonald incorporated all of those disciplines into the creation of Community Immunity. It is my ongoing goal to give the music a space to freely and naturally reflect the dynamic of our collective experience and imagination," he says. This album is a formal document of the music I've been developing in recent years.
Every track on this record is a riddle-like narrative driven by the instrumentalists as they navigate the twists and turns of each piece," says Macdonald. A path is offered, but it's up to their sense of adventure to choose how they will travel towards our common destination, and what new roadways we'll discover in the process."
About Curtis Macdonald
Curtis Macdonald is an alto saxophonist and composer based in New York City. He graduated cum laude from the New School University in 2007 where he immediately became faculty. Recently, he finished his debut record that is scheduled for release on Greenleaf Music April 5, 2011.
Growing up in Canada, Curtis began performing when he was nine years old. Eager to further refine his craft, he ventured to the Banff Centre for the Arts where he participated in several residencies alongside ongoing apprenticeships in New York City. Today he can be seen leading his ensemble, composed of world-class improvising musicians, throughout New York City's most respected jazz and creative music venues.
In addition to developing a sizable repertoire for small ensemble, Curtis' music has taken form in many a medium. He is often commissioned to compose music for chamber groups, independent films and modern dance. His production savvy is heard on many new music and modern jazz recordings where he incorporates improvisation, sound art and digital technology.
Through his research of sound, acoustics, and digital audio processes Curtis has begun to exploit natural aural phenomena within his compositions, such as binaural beating in the form of a modified rhythmic vibrato heard in his piece Childhood Sympathy." A quick look at his website will reveal his probing creativity on the cutting edge of computer music technology.
Curtis' music draws from a variety of influences. He remains allured by the emotive sounds of saxophonists past and draws a new melodic virtuosity based not only on traditional approaches, but also other transcendental and philosophical models.
Curtis' versatility incorporates listening with the ears of a sound designer, playing the saxophone to capture a sense of fluidity, and composing to tickle the mind, all without losing a sense of unity.
Based in Brooklyn, Macdonald is part of the next generation of great saxophonists. Community Immunity, his debut release on Dave Douglas' Greenleaf Music is the first of what will surely be many excellent Curtis Macdonald projects in the years to come.
This story appears courtesy of Two for the Show Media.
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