I first heard Donny's name when he was a fresh-out-of-Berklee tenor player in the Gary Burton Group, and have followed his musical developments and output since then.
I am inspired by his work in the Maria Schneider Orchestra, as recently demonstrated in the brilliant new collab with Maria and David Bowie.
Donny's playing is inventive, constantly, as Nimoy once eerily announced, "In Search Of..." new ways of phrasing, exploring the horn, composing, approaching...
When "Casting For Gravity" was released a few years ago I thought "Well this is how music should f**king sound right now." Donny's envelope pushing had reached a wide open exciting height, and that recording both inspired and frightened me, as in "Could I ever conceive, play or compose anything ever remotely close to this good?"
So when Donny called me for a series of gigs this month, I was obviously thrilled and beyond honored.
And the experience exceeded any expectations (3 "ex" words out of 6 ain't bad!). I learned so much from Donny's playing on the bandstand, and also getting inside his compositions and seeing them on paper. Reconnecting with Nate Wood and talking with him about concepts was eye opening and rewarding. Meeting Matt Clohesy (after admiring his work w/ Geoff Keezer) and developing a connection over a series of nights was grounding and inspiring. Obviously playing the music w/ Tim Lefebvre on night 1 was tons of fun as well ("You can do this, man! You're killing this!" thanks, coach!). And finally getting the chance to spend extended time with the brilliant and deeply funny Zach Danziger (not "zinger", people.) was a joy and revelation. No one funnier, and also more insightful on many subjects. Such brilliant minds and deep souls, every one of these people.
So thank you Donny for making me a part of your music and this brief California run of concerts. I am so thankful and feel so fortunate on so many levels.
ps buy his new release Fast Future, which is released on Tuesday.