The Ken McDonald Quartet
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The Ken McDonald Quartet

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"Ken McDonald Quartet Live in Support of "Pay What You Can""

Ken McDonald, a North York based jazz bassist, brought his quartet to The Tranzac in support of his new album "Pay What You Can." This disc is the second from McDonald as a leader and features local heavyweights Demetri Pesalakis (guitar), Paul Metcalfe (saxophones) and Lowell Whitty (drums). The album was painlessly recorded in November of 2010 and was released to a standing room only crowd in February 2011. The Tranzac gigl featured the same group with Tom Richards (piano) filling in for Petsalakis. Visit for more info - SNAP Downtown Toronto

"Ken McDonald - Pay What You Can review"

The Ken McDonald Quartet - "Pay what you can"
rating: 4/5

Ken McDonald - upright bass and Fender 5 string
Paul Metcalfe - tenor and soprano saxes
Demetri Petsalakis - guitar
Lowell Whitty - drums, percussion

"Detroit" is a stand out track that kicks off the aptly titled second full length album from Toronto based bassist and composer Ken McDonald. That first track is one of the standouts of this exciting new album. Every time I listen to it, the catchy, swinging melody stays in my head for days. The soulful swing (of this entire disc!) takes my mind to a smoky little club somewhere in the big city, in the heart of the sixties.... these cats have clearly done their homework, but also arent afraid to push the stylistic boundaries of their craft.

Sounding classic, and the same time modern, "Pay what you can" is a solid disc, well worth repeated listens.

Each track has amazing harmonically textured bass solos and really shows Ken's agility and intuitiveness as a leader. Unlike a lot of modern jazz albums where the leader is prominently showcased on each track, Ken gives his crew plenty of room to breath. As opposed to sounding like a backing track for the leader, the group comes across as cohesive and competent, sounding like an actual band that has four minds operating simultaneously, as opposed to just one.

For more information on the artist and the album: - Blog Of The Blues


The Master Plan (2008)
Pay What You Can (2011)



The Ken McDonald Quartet formed in the winter of 2008 with their debut performance at the now defunct Concord Cafe. With saxophonist Paul Metcalfe and drummer Lowell Whitty being involved from the beginning, it took two years of searching (among many talented guitarists) to decide on Demetri Petsalakis a the permanent guitarist. The ensemble performs with an unbridled amount of exuberance and always maintains a high level of intensity no matter what the tempo, feel or dynamic of the piece is. The almost telekinetic connection between the members of the band allows for them to take daring risks with the music without missing a beat or cue.

Ken’s compositions show his passion for the jazz tradition while maintaining a modern and fresh perspective. The blues based melodies and hard swinging grooves of early Blue Note recordings play a strong influence on his tunes. This, paired with a knack for experimentation, infuses his songs with both tradition and rhetoric. While by no means tame or pedestrian, Ken’s music possesses an underlying sense of lyricism and sensitivity carried on strong melodic themes. Ken’s music is a refreshing take on jazz that is accessible to any audience.

In November of 2010 the quartet entered the studio to record Ken’s second album as a leader entitled “Pay What You Can,” engineered by fellow bassist Scott McCannell. The session was a painless and inspired experience, churning beautiful takes of 6 new original compositions. The album will be released in February 2011 and will lead to many shows in promotion of it.