Feeling jazzed with the Donny McCaslin Group

Of all the critical music periodicals, it's probably hardest for a player to impress the folks at jazz monthly Downbeat. Jazz folks being jazz folks, after all.

It's particularly cool, then, that California-born, Berklee-trained, New York-based headliner Donny McCaslin won the 2008 Downbeat Critics Poll in the "Rising Star on the Tenor Saxophone" category.

But wait! McCaslin won the same award a year later - meaning the dude's star is rising in a way that even astronomers can't calculate!

See what all the excitement's about tonight when the Donny McCaslin Group plays the Oasis Room in the Garde Arts Center. Pianist Jason Lindner, bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Mark Guiliana complete McCaslin's lineup. A listen to such tunes as "Love Song for an Echo," "Stadium Jazz" or the title track from their latest album, "Casting for Gravity," indicates tonight's show should abound with post-bop funk and celestial balladry.

- RICK KOSTER

Donny McCaslin Group, 7:30 tonight, Oasis Room, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; $38; (860) 444-7373, gardearts.org, donnymccaslin.com.

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