The Creative Opportunity Workshop is a refreshingly original quartet comprised of cello, saxophone, piano and percussion. The unique instrumentation was chosen as a means to escape the predictability, established parameters and creative confines found in the more typical jazz instrumentations. As a result, the combination is stunning.
Earl MacDonald – piano
Kris Allen – saxophones
Christopher Hoffman – cello
Rogerio Boccato – percussion
MacDonald said, “This band 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. I wanted to 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. Its absence leaves a large void, thereby expanding my responsibilities.”
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. Stylistic cross-pollination is seen in Dizzy Gillespie’s association with Chano Pozo. Additionally, it is exemplified by John Coltrane’s infatuation with Indian music. With the Creative Opportunity Workshop (also know as C.O.W.), Earl has incorporated a wide spectrum of influences. These include Brahms, Schumann, Earle Brown, the Beatles, folk music from various cultures, Johnny Mandel, Chick Corea, Ornette Coleman and Nat Cole, for instance. The results have led reviewers to speculate that Earl may be forging a “new hybrid jazz form.”
the Creative Opportunity Workshop: Mirror of the Mind
C.O.W.’s first album, “Mirror of the Mind“ was released in October, 2013. The disc received considerable press and widespread praise. Most noteworthy, it received a JUNO award nomination for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year.
Mirror Of The Mind, from pianist Earl MacDonald and the Creative Opportunity Workshop, is an album that surprises and delights
All About Jazz
By Bruce Lindsay
Honestly, the colors and musical journeys are just too vast to describe in a simple review… Mirror of the Mind is another great installment in the interesting, endeavors and ever growing catalog of pianist/composer Earl MacDonald. Chamber Jazz at its best.
By: H. Allen Williams
A magical, musical alchemist of hip hybrids, Earl MacDonald, the Canadian-born, Connecticut-based pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader and educator, has created yet another visionary, surprise-filled work with the release of his new CD, “Mirror of the Mind,” featuring his hand-picked jazz chamber group, the Creative Opportunity Workshop.
By: Owen McNally, Special To The Courant
Purchase your copy from the BandCamp website. Both CD and download formats are available.