Donny McCaslin waited until his sixth album to use the title In Pursuit (released June 5 on Sunnyside). But the concept of pursuit – single-minded devotion to a distant goal, marked by inventive exploration – has characterized his music almost from the beginning.
Thanks to the high profile of the Dave Douglas Quintet, McCaslin in the last two years has achieved wider praise for the incisive twists and purposeful turns of his emotionally charged solos. But those qualities – along with his sometimes startling virtuosity, and his distinctive voice as a composer – had actually been on display for much of the previous decade, during which McCaslin proved himself a valued sideman on recordings by Danilo Perez, Luciana Souza, and performances with Tom Harrell, Brian Blade, John Pattitucci, The Mingus Band, and Pat Metheny. Meanwhile, the previous albums under his own name have shown him subtly incorporating elements of Latin American music within adventurous jazz frameworks.
In 2006, McCaslin received a Doris Duke Grant for new jazz composition from Chamber Music America; In Pursuit comprises the results of that work.