Kirk Wins SOCAN’s 2015 Hagood Hardy Award

SOCAN Awards were presented to members whose complete repertoire of creative works achieved the highest number of performances in their respective categories during 2014:
Kirk MacDonald won this year’s award for excellence in the genre of jazz.

Kirk Wins TMA149 Lifetime Achievement Award

Youth Jazz Canada congratulates Artistic Director Kirk MacDonald on his Toronto Musicians’ Association 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award. Born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Kirk MacDonald joined the Cape Breton Musicians’ Association at age 12, and made his first recording a year later. Since moving to Toronto in 1997, he has performed on over 45 CDs, both as leader and sideman, and has participated in numerous national broadcast recordings for CBC Radio. He has performed extensively throughout Canada, as well as in the USA, Spain, France, Italy, Holland, Monaco, Australia, Korea, Bermuda, and the Bahamas. Over 90 of his compositions appear on 22 CDs, of his own and of other artists. Kirk has built an extensive body of jazz reflecting both tradition and innovation, and has built a solid reputation as a player, having performed or recorded with leading musicians from all over the world. In 1992 he was declared Winner at the prestigious 4ème Concours International de Solistes de Jazz in Monaco; he has been nominated for National Jazz Awards Saxophonist of the Year three times, among many other nominations and accolades. An educator for 27 years at jazz studies programs such as the University of Toronto and McGill, he is presently a full time professor at Humber College in Toronto. A member of the Toronto Musicians’ Association since 1979, he has received 11 Juno Awards nominations, winning in 1999 and again in 2015, for Vista Obscura. The Toronto Musicians’ Association congratulates Kirk on his recent Juno, and are delighted to acknowledge him with their highest honour — the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Symmetry” Wins 2015 ECMA Jazz Recording of the Year

Symmetry wins the 2015 East Coast Music Award for Jazz Recording of the Year.

Symmetry is saxophonist Kirk MacDonald’s eleventh CD and is his fixth release on Addo Records Symmetry features the legendary trumpeter Tom Harrell, along with  jazz greats bassist Neil Swainson, pianist Brian Dickinson, and drummer Dennis Mackrel.

Kirk MacDonald wins 2015 JUNO Award

Jazz Album of the Year – Solo for Vista Obscura

Vista Obscura is the latest album by saxophonist Kirk MacDonald. It is his sixth release on Addo Records and features the legendary Harold Mabern, along with Canadian jazz greats Neil Swainson, Andre White, and Pat LaBarbera. Vista Obscura is Kirk’s second Juno Award winner and sixth Juno Award nomination.

Symmetry Nominated for 2015 ECMA Award

2015 ECMAKirk MacDonald’s CD, Symmetry has been nominated for Jazz Recording of the Year for the 2015 East Coast Music Awards being held this year in St. John’s Newfoundland. The CD features Tom Harrell, Brian Dickinson, Neil Swainson & Dennis Mackrel. Symmetry is available to purchase through Amazon & iTunes

Vista Obscura Nominated for 2015 Juno Award

Kirk MacDonald’s latest release, Vista Obscura has been nominated for Jazz Album of the Year, Solo for the 2015 Juno Awards being held this year in Hamilton, Ontario. The CD features Harold Mabern, Pat LaBarbera, Neil Swainson & André White. Vista Obscura is available to purchase through Amazon & iTunes

Special Duet Concerts with Harold Mabern

Vista Obscura

Symmetry Review on All About Jazz

Kirk MacDonald: Symmetry (2014)
Published: January 12, 2014

Following two splendid albums as leader of his own big band (Deep Shadows, Family Suite for Large Jazz Orchestra), Toronto-based saxophonist / educator Kirk MacDonald has returned to a small-group format for Symmetry, the thirteenth recording on which his name has been listed atop the marquee. In this case, however, any member of MacDonald’s quintet could have easily laid claim to the honor, as every one is an all-star in his own right, from the renowned trumpeter Tom Harrell, who shares the front line, to the exemplary rhythm section comprised of pianist Brian Dickinson, bassist Neil Swainson and drummer Dennis Mackrel.

Granted, assembling five world-class musicians in a studio to record doesn’t always pay dividends. Here, however, the idea seems truly inspired, thanks in part to their easygoing rapport and in even larger measure to MacDonald’s admirable compositions and arrangements, which bring out the best his colleagues have to offer. In the liner notes, MacDonald writes that he was searching for “beauty as a result of balance or harmonious arrangement.” Mission accomplished, starting with the shapely title selection and continuing through the nimble finale, “Bop Zone.” MacDonald later amplifies the remark, pointing out the genesis and form of each arrangement, but that is best left for musicologists to read and assimilate. Suffice to say that MacDonald has readily achieved his purpose.

“Bop Zone” is especially well-suited to MacDonald whose robust, darting tenor solos bring to mind such bop-era (and later) flame-throwers as Hank Mobley, Johnny Griffin, Teddy Edwards, George Coleman, Harold Land and Charlie Rouse, among others, not to mention such contemporaries as Lew Tabackin, Don Menza, Joe Lovano and Canada’s own Pat LaBarbera. As for Harrell, he is as always a model of tastefulness and consistency on trumpet or flugel, pouring years of invaluable discipline and experience into every persuasive solo. Dickinson and Swainson make the most of their moments in the sun (each is bright and perceptive whether out front or lending support), while Mackrel toils earnestly to help keep the rhythm sharp and steady. Even though no one is likely to end the day humming any of MacDonald’s themes, all are well-honed and consistently pleasing.

In sum, Symmetry more than lives up to its eurythmic name: a burnished and cohesive group endeavor whose whole is actually greater than its parts. Definitely worth checking out.
Track Listing: Symmetry; Eleven; Common Ground; Mackrel’s Groove; Shadows; Brazil Like; Labyrinth; Greenwich Time; Contemplation; Bop Zone.

Personnel: Kirk MacDonald: leader, composer, arranger, tenor saxophone; Tom Harrell: trumpet, flugelhorn; Brian Dickinson: piano; Neil Swainson: bass; Dennis Mackrel: drums.

Record Label: Addo Records

New CD!

I’m looking forward to releasing my eleventh CD as a leader. It’s a quintet recording featuring ten new compositions of mine with a great band.

Members are Tom Harrell (trumpet/fluglehorn), Brian Dickinson (piano), Neil Swainson (bass), Dennis Mackrel (drums) and yours truly on tenor saxophone. Look for an early October release on ADDO Records.