Just thinking about the Creative Opportunity Workshop and what each bandmate “brings to the table” sparks Earl MacDonald’s imagination. Thus far, this ensemble’s music has not only crossed genres, it captures and expresses a wide range of human sentiments and qualities, encompassing irreverence, elegance, humor and contemplation (to name just a few). Together, they have created a distinguishable, truly unique sound.
Rather than simply posting their professional bios below, insights are shared into Earl’s relationship with each of the musicians in C.O.W.. Any overlooked facts can be found on their individual web sites.
Kris Allen, saxophones:
By choice, Kris has been a central member of almost all of Earl’s Connecticut-based ensembles: C.O.W., the Earl MacDonald 6, the New Directions Ensemble and Jazz Lauds. Earl considers him a close friend in addition to being one of his main musical collaborators. Kris and Earl share a common Christian faith which facilitates their discussing deep, substantive matters in conversation. Kris is a rare individual who challenges Earl musically, intellectually and spiritually. He recently accepted a full-time teaching position at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It is a position he truly deserves after having paid his dues juggling a hectic, piecemeal, adjunct teaching career at a half-dozen schools. His fantastic debut CD as a leader, “Circle House“, was just released on Truth Revolution Records. Take a look at Kris’ impressive, new web page: allenjazz.com.
Rogerio Boccato, percussion:
Earl clearly remembers the first time he heard Rogerio play. Kris and Jen Allen were playing at Szechuan Tokyo restaurant in West Hartford, and he decided to make the trek to hear his friends. Because Earl was expecting to hear some straight-ahead bebop, you can probably imagine how his jaw dropped when I heard Rogerio instigating, interacting, prodding and surprising, all the while playing with an impeccable time feel and taste. He knew immediately that I had found the perfect drummer for his new ensemble — a special, sensitive player who listens attentively, adds a creative spark, and incorporates colorful textures into whatever he plays. At that time, Rogerio was a visiting artist-in-residence from Brazil at the Hartt School. Since then, he and his family have settled in New York City where he often performs and records with such recognized musicians as John Patitucci, Brian Blade, Danilo Perez and Joe Lovano. Earl is honored to have him in his band. You can read about his many projects at: http://www.rogerioboccato.com
Christopher Hoffman, cello:
Earl met Christopher Hoffman for the first time at the recording studio, just prior to their session for this album. Having only heard him play on YouTube videos, Earl was justifiably a bit nervous. The cello chair in his Creative Opportunity Workshop band is demanding to say the least. In addition to being able to accurately read and interpret written ensemble passages (both arco and pizzicato), the cellist must be comfortable improvising in a variety of styles, be able to swing, and know how to function as a bassist at times. Chris has done brilliantly. He came highly recommended by both C.O.W.’s former cellist, Greg Heffernan and Erik Friedlander. Chris is based in Brooklyn, New York, where he works within a wide array of musical settings, including Henry Threadgill’s Zooid, the JP Carletti Trio w/ Tony Malaby and his own ensemble, Magic Wells. He has started a collective record label, Hundred Pockets Records. To learn more about this multifaceted musician, visit his web site: www.christopherhoffman.com
Earl MacDonald, piano/composer:
Although the Creative Opportunity Workshop performs Earl’s music, he often states that members of his band are the ones who give his compositions vitality. He finds fulfillment and great joy in collaborating with these fine musicians.