David Bowie’s final collaborator speaks out on his last days and ‘Blackstar’

Donny McCaslin is about to release 'Beyond Now' in tribute

One of David Bowie‘s final collaborators has spoken out about their ‘amazing connection’ and the impact of working on his last album ‘Blackstar’.

Saxophonist Donny McCaslin and his band were brought in to give ‘Blackstar’ the jazz-led edge that Bowie desired. Now, he’s set to release an album of his own in tribute to the late, great icon.

“There’s so much emotion,” he told The Guardian of losing Bowie. “It’s devastating.”

Recalling the time that Bowie first came to see his band perform in a club, McCaslin said: “I was definitely nervous. I glanced up and saw where he was sitting. I just tried to keep myself grounded and not think about it. But the pressure was on.”

Once invited t work together, the saxophonist began rediscovering Bowie’s back catlogue – before being told that he wanted to start afresh. “He sent me an email saying, essentially, ‘That’s old stuff. I’m into different things now,” McCaslin said. “At age 68, Bowie was moving forward.”

He continued: “He set the tone from the beginning. He told us: ‘Whatever you hear, I want you to go with it.’ He said ‘great’ to everything.”

Speaking about the impact of Bowie’s death, McCaslin said: “We had this amazing connection and then he was gone. For me to be associated with him is really special. I don’t think that negates anything I’ve done prior, or what comes in the future.

When quizzed about Bowie’s sickness and the cancer that killed him, the musician added: “He was so private. I want to honour his wishes that we not talk about it.”

‘Blackstar’s producer Tony Visconti also spoke highly of McCaslin. “Working with Donny’s band in the studio was a dream,” he said. “What I like about Donny and his musicians is that they are very cultured jazz musicians but young enough to embrace the extremes of pop and rock. They are ‘one-take’ players. There are no mistakes, just expert playing.”

‘Beyond Now’ by Donny McCaslin in out on 14 October.

Meanwhile, a new ‘best of’ compilation ‘Bowie Legacy’ is set for release on 11 November.

It has been reported that David Bowie planned ‘a long list of musical releases’ before he died, with the upcoming release of the ‘Lazarus’ musical soundtrack to feature his final ever recordings and unheard songs.