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November 25, 2022Songs of the Doomed? Madness, paranoia, fear and loathing on tap! Well you bastards, it's out! The music has been released upon an unsuspecting world and good lord I am excited to have it out there. There has been dome decent aitplay already, thank ye gods, and the reviews are starting to trickle in now too. I mean, Jesus, check it out:

"This album grabbed me by the throat and shook me. It is wild and unpredictable and sounds fantastic at high volume."

"White Rabbit is the only cover on the record and it includes gifted guest vocalist Jenn McCarthy. It takes courage to sing a song by Grace Slick and not sound like a cover artist, but McCarthy makes the song her own while retaining the spirit of the original."

Both of these quotes come courtesy of The Intelligencer. And who can argue with such truths? Not I.

More to come - let us see this gibberish seep into the world!

December 15, 2021Introducing... Songs of the Doomed"Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of fuel. Sentimental people call it inspiration, but what they really mean is fuel. I have always needed fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio."

- Hunter S. Thompson

“Songs of the Doomed” plays music inspired by the writing of political journalist and general dingbat Hunter S. Thompson. A lot of the jangled madness that makes up this band’s repertoire comes from a new compositional style created specifically for this band called the ‘Gonzo Cypher’. The cypher allows you to take a word, line, or even paragraph of Hunter’s writing, submit it to the cypher, and what you are left with is a weird tone row, which is then used to compose the music (serial music rules apply!).

The sound of the band is inspired by the Gary Burton Quintet from the 1970s on ECM Records, which was weird in its own right, and featured Gary on vibes, along with two guitars, bass, and drums. This mess of chordal instruments allows for the creation of some thick tapestries of sound, and also allows the band to get weird and intense, not unlike The Grateful Dead or Jimi Hendrix. Perhaps we will achieve fame equal to those artists.

Or maybe not. But, the uniqueness of this project leads me to believe that audiences everywhere will clammer for more. To quote the Canadian icon Don Thomspon,

“(Songs of the Doomed) is killing on every level… I think you're really onto something. It's not like anything I've heard before.”

So grab a pint of whiskey, settle in, and let the vibes (no pun intended) wash over you. Once the initial waves of fear and loathing pass, you’ll probably really dig it.

February 5, 2020Downbeat Review!Just a quick note to let you all know that "City Abstract" (Origin Records) has just recently received a 3.5 star review from the most prestigious jazz publication in the world, Downbeat magazine. They called the music "dynamic" and "beautiful". I'm pretty psyched that they dig the music!
Tuesday, May 07, 2019New record soon, thanks to FACTOR!Short post, but I’m pretty excited to announce that I have recently been awarded a FACTOR grant to record a new CD with Ted Quinlan, Pat Collins, and Ted Warren. More details to come!

Dan McCarthy is a Canadian jazz vibraphonist based in Toronto. After graduating top of his class from the prestigious jazz program at Humber College, Dan quickly made a name for himself on the Toronto jazz scene, performing with such notable Canadian artists as Ted Warren, Pat Collins, Peter Appleyard, Ted Quinlan, Lorne Lofsky, Terry Clarke, Brandi Disterheft, Laila Biali, and Don Thompson.

Moving to New York City in 2004 brought many more opportunities for Dan, giving him the chance to play and record with some of the top jazz musicians in the world, such as Steve Swallow, Ben Monder, Mark Feldman, George Garzone, Myron Walden, Rudy Royston, Thomas Morgan, Mark Shim, Ari Hoenig, and Gerald Cleaver.

In March of 2019, Dan returned to Toronto permanently to pursue a Master in Jazz Composition at York University on a full fellowship.

He released his first record, “Interwords” in 2006, which was hailed by Geoff Chapman of The Toronto Star as one of the top 10 jazz records of the year. His playing has been called "ambitious", "arresting", and "show-stopping" by George Harris at All About Jazz Los Angeles, who also said his Dan "walks the tightrope between calm gentility and fiery abandon". Mark F. Turner at All About Jazz New York says that "Dan gives new visions of the mallet instrument".

Dan’s second record, “Let’s Start The Show”, released in 2009, features the unique combination of vibraphone and banjo, accompanied by bass and drums. Jazz critic Kurt Gottschalk described the album as “cinematic”. In 2018, Dan released a free-improvisation duo record that was recorded in 2004 with fellow Toronto pianist Gordon Webster, entitled “Constellation”. All records can be heard on iTunes, Apple Music, and Spotify.

In March 2019, Dan’s first major-label release “Epoch” came out on Origin Records. The record features jazz icon Steve Swallow on bass, as well as giants Ben Monder on guitar and Mark Feldman on violin. It received glowing international reviews. “Elevated by the pillars of mystique and mournfulness, this statement proves beautifully gripping.” (Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz). “Five Stars, It is a visionary project, full of creative fantasy, but above all it is a beautiful music that is listened to with great pleasure.” (Mateusz Krepski, Multikulti, Poland).

His second Origin release, “City Abstract”, was released on October 18, 2019. It features notable Canadian jazz legends Ted Quinlan on guitar, Pat Collins on bass, and Ted Warren on drums. The album draws inspiration from composer Carla Bley, as well as the music of Gary Burton, specifically his time on ECM in the 1970s. The record has received rave reviews, including 3.5/4 stars from Downbeat Magazine.

In 2020, Dan will be releasing a new trio project featuring jazz super-heavies Thomas Morgan on bass and Rudy Royston on drums. “A Place Where We Once Lived” will be out independently in late 2020.

In addition to performing, Dan is also actively engaged in music education, teaching lessons (vibraphone and otherwise), as well as giving masterclasses and clinics at high schools and colleges across Canada.

Dan exclusively uses and endorses the Marimba One “One Vibe”, and BlueHaus Mallets.

For more information, please visit http://www.vibraphonedan.com

Some Jaded, Atavistic FreakoutDan McCarthy's Songs of the Doomed2022
EpochDan McCarthy2019
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A Place Where We Once LivedDan McCarthy, Thomas Morgan, Rudy Royston2021
City AbstractDan McCarthy2019
iTunesspotifyamazonGoogle MusicTidal


Canadian vibesman Dan McCarthy has come a long way since the release of his already very accomplished debut album Interwords (self produced) in 2006. Since moving to Brooklyn, New York in 2004, McCarthy has been able to collaborate with some of the city's finest improvisors, such as Steve Swallow or Ben Monder who are also the musicians joining him on his first of two albums in 2019, both released on the Seattle-based label Origin Records. The quartet performing on early spring record Epoch, featuring Swallow and Monder, is completed by violinist Mark Feldman and stands in stark contrast to the late summer soundtrack City Abstract. The difference between the two outings isn't triggered merely by the change in instrumentation—the first being a drumless quartet venture—but mainly from the very dissimilar compositional approaches. Epoch's deconstructed nature and quietly broiling aesthetic come in the spirit of past achievements from the ECM label, while City Abstract leans more towards the mainstream direction and is filled with Bop-lines and Fusion-language. Both are deserving of a number of spins and attentive ears for different, and many reasons.

Dan McCarthy
Origin Records

Six original compositions make up the tranquilly reflective journey that McCarthy and his sidemen on strings take the listener on with Epoch. Tranquil mainly in the sense of relative volume. For Opening "A Dream, Wake" greets the listener with dissonance and discord that seem everything other than calm. Fuzzy, distorted guitar droning is met by fluttering violin brushes and isolated vibraphone melodies— experimentalist Monder doesn't hesitate to go full speed on what seems to be a metal guitar riff. As soon as the storm quiets down and merges into "Fugitive Epoch" however, what seemed to be arbitrary by design becomes very carefully constructed interplay between deep bass-pulses and strikingly sad melodies. Violin, guitar and vibes share their roles in equal parts—from picking up the melody, handing it over to then framing the new leader. Feldman's emotive violin playing digs deep into the percussive register of the instrument while seamlessly gliding through the notes with little forays into the gypsy minor scale. Surprising harmonic shifts combined with soft guitar strokes from Monder let "Softly She Sings Her Song" ring echoes of John Abercrombie while "Strange Medicine on the Desert" shines a light on the patient interplay and careful arrangement between the four. The closing exercise "A Dream, Asleep" confirms that no matter in what state, to McCarthy dreams apparently are quite the roller coaster. An introverted and difficult recording that is all the more rewarding.

Dan Mccarthy
City Abstract
Origin Records

Performed with another quartet, the 6 months later released City Abstract shows McCarthy from his more immediate side. This time around the vibraphonist is joined by fellow Canadian musicians Ted Quinlan on guitar, Pat Collins on bass and Ted Warren on drums. A tribute to Carla Bley as well as Gary Burton, the set is made up of seven originals crafted with their inspiration in mind and the Pat Metheny composition "Midwestern Nights Dream" as well as Keith Jarrett's "Coral." The melodies come bubbling out from guitar and vibes with determination on the opening Bley homage "Bleyto" and set the mood for the record. Collins' walking bass forms a coherent rhythmic partnership with Warren's traditional drumwork while Quinlan and McCarthy trade solos and motifs in a joyful way. Both covers are treated with much attention to detail. The dreamy ballad from Metheny's chef d'oeuvre of a debut album Bright Size Life (ECM, 1976) is interpreted with much respect for the original version—the vibraphone being a perfect instrument to expand on the atmospheric nature of the tune. The liveliness of "Go beserk" comes as a welcome shift towards a more electric direction and sees Quinlan go full fusion on his distorted guitar tone while the vibraphone's sustain layers the single notes to form a harmonic whole. Drums and bass are given more room to unfold in as the album progresses and demonstrate a patient yet gripping foundation for the melodic voices to flourish in—in the quieter ballads such as "Other things of less consequence" or "Utviklingssang" as well as the mid-tempo grooves "Sparrow Lake" or "Thoughts and Reveries." The album couldn't close on a more fitting note than with the bluesy and pop-friendly Gary Burton homage "Desert Roads." City Abstract is the kind of album that will set the day's good mood and fill heads with melodies to hum to.

Friedrich Kunzmann All About Jazz
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City Abstract

The concept of homecoming is inextricably linked to the music that Dan McCarthy presents on City Abstract. Recorded in May of 2019, shortly after he had returned to his native Toronto after fifteen years in New York, this date finds the vibraphonist bowing to two of his biggest influences: pianist Carla Bley and vibraphonist Gary Burton. Those lodestars provide solid inspiration and clear direction for McCarthy, who works his way through originals and a few choice covers with a balanced approach that speaks both to strength and poise, and the romance embedded in the act of repatriation adds a touch of nostalgic allure to the music.

Teaming up with a trio of Canada's finest—guitarist Ted Quinlan, bassist Pat Collins and drummer Ted Warren—McCarthy makes his presence felt immediately on "Bleyto (For Carla Bley)." This dynamic original finds Collins and Warren spurring their band mates on. McCarthy and Quinlan, riding the waves of energy produced from on low, spin intricate unison lines and deliver some serious solo statements. From there the vibraphonist dials it back a bit, first with a wide-eyed gaze at Pat Metheny's varicolored "Midwestern Nights Dream" that reaffirms the well-matched nature of McCarthy and Quinlan, and then with a sublimely mellow trip through Keith Jarrett's "Coral" that gives Collins a chance to shine. After delivering those two purely peaceable covers, McCarthy switches gears again, sending a clear message that finesse can be met with fire. "Go Berserk," an intense number in seven underscored by a persistent motif, burns deep during its brief lifespan.

As McCarthy moves past the swaying, straight-eighth "Sparrow Lake" occupying City Abstract's midpoint, the music looks toward more reflective and lyrical realms. "Other Things Of Less Consequence," wistful and warm as it is, proves to be one of the vibraphonist's standout compositions; Bley's "Utviklingssang" plays on a magnetic blend of introspective and seductive sentiments; and 'Thoughts And Reveries," with bossa nova inflections and a modernist's color scheme, flows on by. Then the album comes to a fitting end with "Desert Roads (For Gary Burton)." Alluding to that vibraphone pioneer's rides down country roads and other places, that number provides a solidly satisfying ending with an easy-going vibe and a touch of Southern rock in the mix.

It's tempting to say that the change of scenery has done Dan McCarthy some good, but the truth is that location may have little to do with his musical fortunes. It's a growth mindset that really deserves the credit. McCarthy keeps looking up and, in doing so, reaching new heights.
Dan BilawskyAll About Jazz
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Some Jaded, Atavistic Freakout

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A Place Where We Once Lived

City Abstract
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Sheet Music


Thought Again
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A Place Where We Once Lived
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Go Berserk
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Sombre Sleep
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Beyond All Others
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Epoch CD Release Show @ The Jazz Bistro

Songs of the Doomed Recording Session

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