Trane of Thought CDTrane of Thought on Cellar Live features the music of the great John Coltrane. Recorded live at The Rex Hotel Jazz and Blues Bar this CD captures music from our long running (27 years) annual tribute to Coltrane.

Recorded over two nights in September of 2018 featuring Brian Dickinson (piano), Neil Swainson (bass) and Joe LaBarbera (drums) along with Pat LaBarbera (saxophones) and Kirk MacDonald (saxophone).

Listen to sample tracks & learn more.

Bill King chatting with Kirk August 29, 2019 a7 CIUT 89.5 radio. Check out the podcast below.

The Bill King Show
Thursdays, 9:00-10:00am

The father-and-daughter frontline make the trip from Toronto to Montreal and then Ottawa this weekend.

Ottawa Citizen – PETER HUM November 24, 2018

GenerationsKirk MacDonald  presents his latest CD Generations, his first release with the Label HGBS Blue Records Canada. It’s Kirk MacDonald’s 15th CD as a leader. After recording almost exclusively his own compositions over the past two and a half decades, MacDonald wanted to return to the music he cut his teeth on. This is a collection of ballads & standards from the Great American Songbook and jazz compositions by a few of his favorite composers. The band spans three generations, with Kirk MacDonald’s daughter Virginia the youngest at 23, Neil Swainson, André White and MacDonald well into their fifties or early sixties, and Harold Mabern at 82. It is a testament of the timelessness of this art form and of the great compositions contained on this CD, that the musicians could so easily find common ground with the material and each other. Listen to sample tracks.

This new collective quartet puts a unique spin on the “two-horn” sound. Performing originals from each of the band members as well as the jazz standard repertoire, the Pat LaBarbera Kirk MacDonald Quartet recently toured Canada & recorded the CD Silent Voices in July 2016.

Pat LaBarbera: tenor & soprano saxophones
Kirk MacDonald: tenor & soprano saxophones
Kieran Overs: bass
Adam Nussbaum: drums

Listen now to sample tracks.

Common GroundIt is always a major undertaking to produce a recording for large ensemble Common Ground was no exception. Common Ground is the third recording by KMJO (The Kirk MacDonald Jazz Orchestra) & Kirk MacDonald’s thirteenth CD as leader. Common Ground is a follow up to the 2015 Juno Award Winning CD  Vista Obscura (AJR025). The Kirk MacDonald Jazz Orchestra  has come a long way from their debut performance at the Halifax Jazz Festival in 2004. Since then, the group has performed extensively, released two albums, & developed a book that consists of over thirty-five of Kirk MacDonald’s compositions arranged by some of Canada’s finest composers/arrangers. Listen to sample tracks.

Interview with Jazz Musician Kirk MacDonald

The Body Electric Podcast is hosted by jazz guitarist Nathan Hiltz and features musician to musician interviews. The show airs Thursdays. Kirk MacDonald and Nathan play a few duets and discuss where they come from musically and what they’ve been focusing on lately.

Listen to Kirk MacDonald and Nathan talk how to practice, teaching, and writing for a band.

The SOCAN Awards were presented to members whose complete repertoire of creative works achieved the highest number of performances in their respective categories during 2014:
The 2015 SOCAN Award for excellence in the genre of jazz was presented to jazz saxophonist Kirk MacDonald.

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. Kirk MacDonald 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 MacDonald on his recent Juno, and are delighted to acknowledge him with their highest honour — the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kirk MacDonald’s CD 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.

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.

Kirk 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. Symmetry features Tom Harrell, Brian Dickinson, Neil Swainson & Dennis Mackrel. Symmetry is available to purchase through CDBaby.

Kirk MacDonald - 2015 Juno Award Nomination

Kirk MacDonald – 2015 Juno Award Nomination

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 CDBaby.

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

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.

kmjo_family_suiteKirk MacDonald’s latest CD “Family Suite for large ensemble” under the Addo Records label was released today.

The nominees for the 2012 JUNO Awards were announced by The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) and The Kirk Mac Donald Jazz Orchestra’s CD Deep Shadows was nominated in the “Traditional Jazz Album of the Year” category!

This follows up consecutive Juno Award nominations for Kirk’s previous CDs, Songbook Vol. I (2010), and Songbook Vol. II (2011). Congratulations to all the nominees.

Visit: to purchase the CD or MP3s.

KMJO in the studio

From left to right. First row: Kirk MacDonald, Luis Deniz, P.J. Perry, Pat LaBarbera, Perry White. Second row: Al Kay, Barry Romberg, Nancy White, Brian O’Kane, Joe Sullivan, Lorne Lofsky, Collin Murray, Mike Ardagh. Third row: Nick Bonin, Neil Swainson, Kevin Turcotte, Rob Smith, Jason Logue, Terry Promane, Kenny MacDonald, Steve Belamy.

Recording Session at the Humber Recording Studio (located at the Humber College Lakeshore Campus in Toronto) for the CD Family Suite for large ensemble.

We did two days of recording after a three night gig at The Rex Jazz & Blues Bar in preparation for this CD. Everyone played great on this recording and the orchestrations by Terry Promane were beautifully conceived, capturing the spirit of the compositions. A big thank you to all involved and to the Ontario Arts Council for helping fund this project.