Donny McCaslin was already an established musician when he got the call that took him into a world that few jazz artists ever visit. He was tapped by David Bowie to back the mega-pop star on what turned out to be his last album, released just days before his death.

Now back to a jazzman’s reality of life on the road, McCaslin brought his high-energy quartet to the intimate confines of Blue on Thursday night. His head and heart were still very much full of Bowie’s musical magic.

The tall tenor saxophonist from California offered two songs by Bowie and one inspired by him during the 75-minute performance. The expressiveness and complexity of jazz was still front and center, but the lyricism and drama within the late Englishman’s art also came through loud and clear.

Bowie’s “Warszawa” opened with a thoughtful electric bass solo by Nate Wood before the others joined in. McCaslin led a slow build with flourishes reminiscent of the work of John Coltrane in its spiritual intimations. Another Bowie tune was given an intensity that, while preserving the melody, moved it beyond mere tribute, suggesting rich new veins of musical gold for jazz players to explore.

McCaslin took an idea from the Bowie sessions to craft his “Beyond Now,” the title piece from his own forthcoming album.

Beginning in a low-key fusion style, hinting at a Miles Davis influence, the number soon geared up to a remarkable intensity. Ethereal runs from Kevin Hayes’ electric piano became jabs of sound, engaging with the hard-hitting drumming of Mark Guiliana (another alum of the Bowie sessions). Rhythmic permutations built the momentum of the piece to a point where McCaslin’s shouts and cries on sax took things over the top, while Wood played, smiling and dancing, behind him.

Hayes also had some fine moments on McCaslin’s “Bright Abyss,” creating an edgy assemblage of synthesizer sounds that periodically derailed the harmonic structure of the piece in favor of squawking and squabbling improvisations. Order was restored on a funk/soul base, established by Wood and Guiliana, which lead to a climbing-to-the-top line from the saxophonist.

McCaslin graciously acknowledged the proprietors of Blue for their ongoing efforts to bring big-name jazz to town and went on to praise the city, particularly for its abundance of record stores.

The audience enthusiastically let all four musicians know they liked hearing both the elements of the past and the future that were delivered in the moment on Thursday night.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.