Community Immunity, the title of saxophonist and composer Curtis Macdonald’s 2011 debut album as a leader may seem to be just a clever play on words, but to him, being a member of a community is vital to the creation of his art. Whether he’s in his home of New York City or in Calgary, Alberta, Canada where he grew up, Macdonald always strives to keep a sense of his surroundings in mind.
Macdonald has been informed by several artistic practices as part of his quest for a broader context in which to present his work. Growing up next to one of the most desirable artistic communities in North America, the Banff Centre for the Arts has unmistakably left a lasting impact on his philosophy on the creation of music.
“The Centre is a carefully balanced, fertile environment tailored exclusively for community development within the arts,” Macdonald says. ‘The international population of artists it attracts fosters a unique cross-pollination of disciplines that serves as a catalyst for innovative thought. Its resources are immense. The conversations I continue to have with musicians, choreographers, filmmakers, sculptors, engineers, mathematicians and digital artists whom I’ve met in Banff over the years constantly influence the music I produce. In my home in Brooklyn, I work to continue this experience as much as possible by researching these many disciplines—genres of creativity, if you will—and collaborating with others as much as circumstance permits.”
“Community Immunity is much more than your average modern jazz album… It is a study in compression and expansion, compositional detail and improvisational freedom.” The New York Jazz Record
Macdonald has been subject to a wide-ranging education in music across numerous apprenticeships beyond the walls of the traditional conservatory. He graduated cum laude from the New School University in 2007 where he immediately became faculty.
Through his research of sound, acoustics and digital audio processes, Macdonald has begun to exploit natural aural phenomena within his compositions, such as binaural beating in the form of a modified rhythmic vibrato heard in his piece “Childhood Sympathy.” Macdonald’s inner-scientist affords him a technical understanding of the sonic landscape from which to draw his music. The saxophone is a perfect wind instrument for such endeavors, with its abundant expressive capabilities akin to the human voice. No better suited for its flight is Macdonald, who first picked it up when he was seven and began performing in public at the age of nine.
Macdonald incorporated all of those disciplines into the creation of Community Immunity. “It is my ongoing goal to give the music a space to freely and naturally reflect the dynamic of our collective experience and imagination,” he says. “This album is a formal document of the music I’ve been developing in recent years.
One admirer of Macdonald’s work is the jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas. “The pieces on Community Immunity are like little puzzles with moving parts that fit together in the strangest ways,” he says. “The moving parts lock in with uncanny seamlessness.”
“Every track on this record is a riddle-like narrative driven by the instrumentalists as they navigate the twists and turns of each piece,” says Macdonald. “A path is offered, but it’s up to their sense of adventure to choose how they will travel towards our common destination, and what new roadways we’ll discover in the process.”
Curtis Macdonald’s Community Immunity
“A bracing listen from a musical architect who is as distinctive and precise as he is young… If you’re an open-eared listener with a yen for forward-thinking music, you’ll find yourself wanting to crack Community Immunity‘s code.” -Ottawa Citizen
“Maybe it’s the odd time signatures, maybe the strange timbres or the meandering compositions. Something sets Curtis Macdonald’s debut album apart and challenges you to keep coming back.” Rochester City Newspaper
“A dynamic effort that succeeds in opening more doors with each listen.” Downbeat Magazine
“Imaginative and daring…” Pittsburgh Tribune
01) Community Immunity 4:52
02) Childhood Sympathy 2:52
03) Figmentum II 5:20
04) Second Guessing 5:16
05) Mosaic I 4:01
06) The Living Well 3:19
07) Somnolence IV 4:00
08) Mosaic II 4:24
09) The Imagineer 3:07
10) My Deal 4:48
Curtis Macdonald – Alto Sax
Chris Tordini – Bass
Greg Ritchie – Drums
Jeremy Viner – Tenor Sax & Clarinet (7)
David Virelles – Piano (1,3,7,8,9,10)
Michal Vaňouček – Piano (2,4,6)
Travis Reuter – Acoustic & Electric Guitars (3)
Becca Stevens – Voice (5)
Andréa Tyniec – Violin (5)
All compositions composed by Curtis Robert Macdonald (SOCAN)
Published by CMACSOUND (SOCAN)
Engineered by Dae Bennett and Travis Stefl
Mixed by Tyler McDiarmid
Mastered by A.T. Michael MacDonald
Additional Engineering by: Rob Murray, Jake Leckie & Curtis Macdonald
Produced by Curtis Macdonald
Photography, Artwork and Design by Matthew Macdonald of Syndrome Design.
Recorded on October 13 & 14, 2009 at Bennett Studios, NJ
To the musicians who constantly inspire:
David Virelles, Chris Tordini, Jeremy Viner, Travis Reuter, Greg Ritchie, Michal Vaňouček, Becca Stevens, Andréa Tyniec
To the sound engineers who labored over the details:
Tyler McDiarmid, Dae Bennett, Travis Stefl, Michael MacDonald, Rob Murray, Jake Leckie.
For the unfathomable support and endless resource:
The Banff Centre Music & Sound Department
Theresa Leonard, Barry Schiffman, Steve Bellamy, John D.S. Adams, Geoff Shoesmith.
Parsons, The New School for Design, Department of Art, Media & Technology. Charlie Pizzarello, Julia Salerni, Jane Pirone.
The New School For Jazz & Contemporary Music
Martin Mueller, Pam Sabrin, Dan Greenblatt, Jane Ira Bloom, Brenda Barlow, Bethany Ryker
Dave Douglas, Benjamin Levin, Jim Tuerk
To all those who aided either directly or indirectly, to the creation and realization of this album:
Chern-Hwei Fung, Meredith Bates, Katelyn Clark, Michael Culler, Meining Cheung, Terri Hron, Dan Porter, Audrey Arbeeny, Michael Sweet, Frank Vogt, Bobby Avey, Cody Brown, Kyle Wilson, Adam Jackson, Tobia Neufeld, Maurice Hogue, Franco Rinaldi, Matt Macdonald, Chris DiGirolamo, Scott Stickland