Content Type

This project was made possible by funding through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy and the Heritage Policy Branch of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Canadian Heritage

Earl MacDonald


EARL MACDONALD (pianist, composer, arranger) was born in Winnipeg. He completed his bachelor of music at McGill University and his masters of music degree at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Following his studies, Earl served as musical director for Maynard Ferguson from 1998 to 2000, touring worldwide. MacDonald is director of jazz studies at the University of Connecticut, and he serves as a clinician, guest conductor, and teacher at summer camps. He currently serves as Musical Director and Composer-In-Residence for the Hartford Jazz Society’s New Directions Ensemble.

His compositions for jazz orchestra have been performed by the Airmen of Note, the Westchester Jazz Orchestra, the Millennium Jazz Orchestra, and jazz ensembles from the Eastman School of Music, the University of North Texas, Rutgers, McGill, Rowan University, Lawrence University, Grant MacEwan University, Amherst College, the University of Manitoba, and the University of Louisville.

MacDonald’s debut release, Schroeder’s Tantrum (1996) featured saxophonist, Ralph Bowen, trumpeter Kevin Dean, bassist Mike Downes, and drummer Ted Warren. In 2004, MacDonald released Echoes In The Night, featuring saxophonist Dick Oatts, trumpeter Joe Magnarelli, trombonist Steve Davis, bassist Dave Santoro, and drummer Tom Melito.

His 2011 recording Re:Visions, which features his arrangements for jazz orchestra, was nominated for a JUNO in 2011. In 2013, MacDonald released Mirror of the Mind, with his Creative Opportunity Workshop, which features saxophonist Kris Allen, cellist Christopher Hoffman, and percussionist Rogerio Boccato.


2002 - Sammy Nestico Award for outstanding big band arranging
2006 - American Association of University Professors - Excellence Award for Teaching Innovation
2007 - Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Award – finalist
2008 - ArtEZ Composition Contest in the Netherlands – finalist
2011 - JUNO nomination for 'Best Traditional Jazz Album' for Re:Visions
2011 - Independent Music Awards - Best Jazz Song for "Bad Dream"
2014 - JUNO nomination for 'Contemporary Jazz Album' for Mirror of the Mind