The late writer, Martin Williams described jazz as “the sound of surprise”. As the art form becomes increasingly codified, there is an inevitable risk that the element of surprise will dissipate. One way to keep things fresh is looking to other musical styles for inspiration. Within jazz, this practice dates back to Jelly Roll Morton, and is seen in Dizzy Gillespie’s association with Chano Pozo as well as John Coltrane’s infatuation with Indian music.
With C.O.W., Earl has amalgamated a wide spectrum of influences, including Brahms, Schumann, Earle Brown, the Beatles, folk music from various cultures, Johnny Mandel, Chick Corea, Ornette Coleman and Nat Cole. The results have led reviewers to speculate that Earl may be forging a “new hybrid jazz form.”
C.O.W.’s unique instrumentation (cello, saxophone, piano and percussion) was chosen as a means to escape the predictability, established parameters and creative confines found in the more typical jazz instrumentations. The combination is stunning.Earl MacDonald – piano
Kris Allen – saxophones
Christopher Hoffman – cello
Rogerio Boccato – percussion
MacDonald said, “This band, the Creative Opportunity Workshop, was formed to serve as a personal playground for experimentation and fusions. It began with the notion to challenge myself as a pianist, to play more with my left hand, and draw upon the piano’s rich history, traditions and resources. I continue to find inspiration, ideas and examples within western classical music. Eliminating the bass seemed a logical step towards accomplishing this goal, as its absence would leave a large void, thereby expanding my responsibilities.”