• Kirk MacDonald

    Generations Quartet

Kirk MacDonald Generations Quartet

Kirk MacDonald – tenor saxophone
Virginia MacDonald – clarinet
Mike Downes – bass
Morgan Childs – drums

A “bridge between traditional & modern saxophone playing”, the Toronto based “giant of Canadian jazz” has over 50 CDs as leader and sideman. Saxophonist, prolific composer and multiple Juno Award Nominee/Winner Kirk MacDonald, has been recognized as one of Canada’s greatest for over 35 years. MacDonald has played in the US, France, Italy, Holland, Monaco, Egypt, Australia, Korea, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Spain. Most recently, playing the Jaipur Jazz Festival and other major jazz venues in India just before the onset of COVID-19.

Kirk is joined by Virginia MacDonald who, at the age of twenty- eight , has notably established herself as a respected, sought-after and world leading clarinetist internationally . Kirk and Virginia will be joined by Toronto-based drummer Morgan Childs and bassist Mike Downes, both regular players on the international Jazz scene.

About Kirk MacDonald

With an established reputation as one of Canada’s leading saxophonists, Kirk MacDonald cut his first record at the age of thirteen. Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards and has worked with many leading musicians in a variety of musical genres. He has performed on over fifty CDs as both leader and sideman and has participated in numerous national broadcast recordings for CBC Radio. In addition to performing extensively throughout Canada, he has also performed in the USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Holland, Monaco, Australia, Korea, Bermuda, and the Bahamas.

For over thirty years Kirk MacDonald has worked and recorded with many leading Canadian, U.S., and international jazz musicians including Claude Ranger, Dave Young, Sam Noto, Sonny Greenwich, Kenny Wheeler, Eddie Henderson, Harold Mabern, Walter Bishop Jr., Tom Harrell, Vic Juris, Peter Bernstein, Adam Nussbaum, Rich Perry, Kurt Elling, David Virelles, Ralph Bowen, Dick Oatts, Ben Monder, Seamus Blake, Jonathan Blake, Lorne Lofsky, Bob Mover, Pat LaBarbera, John Taylor, Ron McClure, Jack DeJohnette, Mike Stern, Jim McNeely, Bob Mintzer, Vince Mendoza, John Clayton, Chris Potter, Glenn Ferris, Maria Schneider, Dave Grusin, Danilo Perez, Adam Rogers, Dennis Mackrel, Nancy Walker, Barry Romberg, Andre White, Rob Smith, Brian Dickinson, Denny Christianson, Bernie Senensky, Phil Nimmons, James Moody, Rosemary Clooney, and the Humber College Faculty Ensemble.

Over 100 performances of Kirk MacDonald’s compositions appear on 25 albums, both as a leader and on recordings by other artists. Kirk has established a substantial body of original work as a saxophonist/composer over the past three decades. As a follow-up to his award-winning recordings Symmetry with Tom Harrell, and Vista Obscura with Harold Mabern, MacDonald released Common Ground, a double CD of his compositions arranged by Joe Sullivan for Jazz Orchestra. Silent Voices, a co-led quartet outing with renowned saxophonist Pat LaBarbera, featuring American jazz great Adam Nussbaum on drums. MacDonald’s latest recording Generations brings him back full circle to his roots in a program of jazz standards and the Great American Songbook. Generations features three generations of musicians: the legendary pianist Harold Mabern at age 82 and MacDonald’s wonderfully talented daughter Virginia MacDonald, at age 23, on clarinet.

Kirk MacDonald has been active as an educator for 30 years at leading jazz studies programs such as The University of Toronto, Humber College, and McGill University. Through his work with these programs, numerous live performances, recordings, master classes, and workshops throughout Canada and internationally, Kirk has become one of Canada’s most respected and in-demand educators.

For close to three decades MacDonald has been a leader in his field of performance, composition, and education and has had a huge and lasting influence on many of Canada’s younger generation of musicians. Many former students have gone on to forge national and international careers in many genres of music. Kirk MacDonald is presently a full-time professor at Humber College in Toronto.

About Virginia MacDonald

2019 Stingray Rising Star Award recipient, 2020 ICCC first prize winner, 2020 International Clarinetist Corona Competition first prize winner Virginia MacDonald has established herself as a respected and sought-after musician in the Canadian jazz scene. Known for her lyrical and soulful clarinet playing, Virginia has been described as a “powerful new voice in the Canadian scene” by Juno Award-winning bassist Mike Downes. Virginia grew up in a musical family, and began playing her main instrument, clarinet, at the age of seven. Since then, she has performed extensively as both a leader and side woman at several venues across Toronto, including Koerner Hall, The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, The Jazz Bistro, and The Rex Hotel Jazz & Blues Bar. Virginia has performed in several Canadian and International jazz festivals including the Cambridge Jazz Festival, the Jaipur Jazz & Blues Festival, the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, the Beaches International Jazz Festival, the Kensington Market Jazz Festival, the TD Markham Jazz Festival and the Cape Breton Jazz Festival. Virginia has had the opportunity to work internationally in the United States, India, and Europe. She appeared on Juno Award-winning saxophonist Kirk MacDonald’s 2013 big band release, Common Ground, and his latest 2018 release with the great Harold Mabern, Generations: Ballads & Standards. In addition to her busy performance schedule, Virginia is an in-demand educator and has given workshops at universities and post-secondary music programs both locally and internationally. She has led masterclasses at McGill University (Montreal), the Global Music Institute (Delhi), and the True School of Music (Mumbai). Virginia currently holds the Assistant Head of Jazz position at Toronto community outreach/non-profit organization Discovery Through the Arts, and is on the faculty at the Bob Mover Academy of Music, alongside legends such as Charles MacPherson, Sheila Jordan, and Billy Drummond. At this point in her career, Virginia is now focusing on composing and performing her own music. Her debut album is set to be released in 2021 and is comprised of original compositions written for jazz quintet.  Virginia is a Rovner ambassador.

About Mike Downes

Multiple JUNO award winner Mike Downes has been a prominent Canadian bassist, composer, arranger and educator since the early 1980s. His musicality, emotional depth and melodic approach to the bass have thrilled audiences in Europe, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, Iceland, the United States and Canada. In addition to leading his own groups, Mike has performed with virtually all of Canada’s top jazz musicians, including Molly Johnson, Oliver Jones, PJ Perry, Lorne Lofsky, Don Thompson, Kirk MacDonald, Robi Botos and Pat LaBarbera. He has performed with international artists Pat Metheny, Chris Potter, Michael Brecker, John Abercrombie, Peter Erskine, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Dave Liebman and many others.

In 1994 Mike formed the Mike Downes Quartet, featuring saxophonist Phil Dwyer, pianist Dave Restivo and drummer Ted Warren. That group performed regularly in Toronto and recorded Forces in 1995. As part of a cross-Canada tour the band recorded for two days in CBC studios in Winnipeg. That recording was later released as Then. In 2004 Mike’s trio recorded The Winds of Change, chosen as one of the year’s top CDs by JazzFM91. Mike’s next trio recording, Ripple Effect, featuring pianist Robi Botos and drummer Ethan Ardelli, won a 2014 Juno Award winner for Traditional Jazz Album of the Year. Following that Mike ventured into large-ensemble writing and released In the Current (Addo Records) featuring an 11-piece chamber jazz group made up of some of Canada’s finest musicians. Mike’s most recent recording Root Structure, featuring his present quartet with Robi Botos (JUNO Award winner 2016), Ted Quinlan (JUNO nomination 2003) and Larnell Lewis (Grammy award winner with Snarky Puppy 2017) won Jazz Album of the Year:Solo at the 2018 JUNO Awards.

About Morgan Childs

Morgan Childs is a drummer living in Toronto, Ontario. Originally hailing from Invermere, BC, in that province’s mountainous East Kootenay region, Morgan spent 10 years on the Vancouver music scene before making the move to Toronto in the fall of 2009. During that time, Morgan has built an international career as a performer and educator with some of the world’s finest musicians. Morgan is highly regarded among his peers for his deep swing feel, sensitivity, versatility and musicality, as well as his reverence for jazz history and wide-ranging musical vocabulary. Showing enviable versatility, Morgan is also a noted composer and bandleader. His groups have been frequently featured on CBC radio shows Hot Air, Tonic, and JazzBeat. Morgan has been the recipient of the Fraser McPherson Memorial Scholarship, three CBC Galaxie Rising Star awards at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival (2006, 2007, 2008), the 2009 and 2012 General Motors Grand Prix du Jazz at the Montréal Jazz Festival (with The Amanda Tosoff Quartet and Robi Botos Trio, respectively), and a 2010 TD Fellowship in Jazz from the Banff Centre. Morgan has performed across North America as a leader and a sideman at major festivals, universities, clubs and concert venues. Some of the notable artists has performed, recorded, and toured with include; Ingrid Jensen, Rob Scheps, Mike Murley, Brad Turner, Bill Coon, Mike Allen, Phil Dwyer, Laila Biali, Ian Hendrickson-Smith, Brandi Disterheft, David Braid, Hugh Fraser, Robi Botos, Zach Brock, Chris Gale, Kelly Jefferson, and Don Thompson. In 2007, Morgan released his debut CD as a leader, “Time” on the Vancouver-based Cellar Live record label.

The Kirk MacDonald Generations Quartet || TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival

Kirk MacDonald – tenor saxophone
Virginia MacDonald – clarinet
Neil Swainson – bass
Morgan Childs – drums

Kirk MacDonald Generations Quintet

Kirk MacDonald – tenor saxophone
Virginia MacDonald – clarinet
Harold Mabern – piano
Neil Swainson – bass
André White – drums

Virginia MacDonald Interview

Kirk MacDonald - Generations CD Cover

Virginia MacDonald – Links