Bands and Performance Settings

By leading a variety of bands and embracing different performance settings, Earl keeps himself artistically fresh and energized. Click on any of the band names below for expanded descriptions and rosters.

Performance Settings - Earl MacDonald, piano

Earl MacDonald’s Yankee Gumbo

Yankee Gumbo is Earl’s 10-piece “little big band.” It is comprised of 4 brass, 3 saxophones, and rhythm section. This band is featured on his award-winning “Open Borders” CD. Imagine the Birth of the Cool, but turbo-charged, with high octane fuel and a fresh set of spark plugs.

the Earl MacDonald 6

“Hard Bop with a twist” is how one might describe this unique jazz sextet. Alto sax, trumpet and trombone form the front line.


The Creative Opportunity Workshop serves as Earl’s personal playground for experimentation. The instrumentation of cello, saxophone, piano and percussion is stunning, if not startlingly original.

the Salles/MacDonald Quartet

When Felipe Salles and Earl collaborate, sparks fly. Their full throttle, technically aggressive improvisations evoke John Coltrane’s Quartet and Cedar Walton’s Eastern Rebellion. In short, if jazz were an olympic event, this quartet would be a gold medal contender.

the Earl MacDonald Trio

Sometimes a pianist just needs to return to his roots and allow his influences to shine through. Earl grew up listening to Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson and the Three Sounds. He still loves playing in the trio format of piano, string bass and drums.

Solo Piano Concerts

Of the various performance settings, playing solo is perhaps the most challenging for any musician. Earl has had his fill of playing “cocktail piano gigs” (where the audience is usually more interested in conversing than listening). As a result, he now only performs solo in formalized concerts.

MacDonald-Maher Duo

This guitar/piano duo is Earl’s outlet for playing straight-ahead, unadulterated, swingin’ jazz. Consequently, their repertoire draws from the American Songbook and jazz standards.

Jazz Lauds

With the Jazz Lauds band, Earl can fully integrate two of his foremost pursuits — jazz and his Christian faith. The band performs reimagined hymns and worship song arrangements, usually within the context of a church service.

Jazz for Joy Quintet

Earl’s Jazz for Joy Quintet preserves the long-standing tradition of jazz musicians performing ultra-hip renditions of seasonal Christmas tunes. “Yule” certainly dig this swingin’ band, come December.

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