Donny McCaslin is the winner of the Paul Acket Award 2017, a prize awarded yearly by the festival and presented to an artist deserving wider recognition for their extraordinary musicianship.

Donny McCaslin is one of the best-kept secrets in modern jazz. Fresh out of Berklee College of Music, he started his career with Gary Burton and after that played with Steps Ahead, among others. As a sideman in Maria Schneider's orchestra he has been nominated for a Grammy several times (Best Jazz Instrumental Solo and Best Jazz Improvised Solo). He made his first own album in 1998 and did his first Dutch tour in 2008.

Last year, the saxophonist surprised audiences by collaborating with David Bowie on the latter's impressive final album, Blackstar. Bowie discovered McCaslin after he saw him play in a club, at the recommendation of Maria Schneider. He asked McCaslin to collaborate on his 2014 single Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime). Late last year McCaslin released his album Beyond Now, a posthumous tribute to Bowie.

The saxophonist is known for his progressive fusion sound. He plays in several bands and orchestras, and has worked with varied musicians including Antonio Sánchez, David Binney, Scott Colley, and Danilo Pérez. 

Paul Acket Award

The Paul Acket Award was named after the founder of North Sea Jazz. Previous winners of the prize include Cécile McLorin Salvant (2016), Tigran Hamasyan (2015), and Ambrose Akinmusire (2014).

The nominees were selected by a jury consisting of Seth Abramson (United States, Jazz Standard), Maurin Auxéméry (Canada, International Jazz Festival Montréal), Oliver Belopeta (Macedonia, Skopje Jazz Festival), Pieter Koten (Belgium, KAAP Creative Compass), Onno ˆPaloma˜ Post (The Netherlands, Music Library Rotterdam/DJ). They nominated 23 musicians, after which international jazz critics and programmers cast their votes.

BNP Paribas loves jazz!

The Fondation BNP Paribas has been supporting jazz musicians in developing their careers and many jazz festivals all over the world for over twenty years. As talent development is key to our Foundation, it also supports North Sea Jazz's Paul Acket award and North Sea Jazz Kids. Discover the unique stories by North Sea Jazz artists on how their career began at