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L.A. Jazz Scene Review - Overtones

Doug MacDonald, guitar/arranger/composer; Bill Cunliffe, piano/Electric piano/Hammond B3 organ; Chuck Berghofer, bass; Roy McCurdy, drums; Paul Kreibich, shaker; Aaron Janik, trumpet; Kim Richmond, alto saxophone; Rickey Woodard, tenor saxophone; Ira Nepus, trombone.

Doug MacDonald has assembled some of L.A.’s best for this project. MacDonald has written seven out of the eight songs recorded and he’s also arranged everything. “Night by Night” is one of his originals and it swings with refreshing horn lines that skip over the medium tempo tune harmonically. When Doug takes stage center, his guitar solo is bright and boisterous. He borrowed the chord changes from “Day by Day,” but adds a refreshed melody. Doug shares plenty of the spotlight with these amazing musicians and rightfully so. Each is a master of their instrument and make the team project sound effortless. Solo by solo, players take a few minutes to introduce themselves on this opening tune. Kim Richmond’s alto saxophone swings, as does Ira Nepus on the trombone. “Bossa for PK” is a song commissioned by the California State University, Fullerton music program. It is dedicated to prolific drummer and professor, Paul Kreibich. Doug’s tune “Blues by Eight” was inspired by Miles Davis and a song called, “Blues by Five.” His guitar opens the piece and sets both tone and tempo. Drummer, Roy McCurdy shuffles along beneath the hot horn arrangements. MacDonald’s composing talents shine on this recording, as well as his tasty arrangements. Rickey Woodward’s style and technique rides over the rhythm section, smooth as silk. Speaking of Rickey, this is his fifth recording project with Doug and MacDonald composed a song especially for him. It’s titled “Rickey Speaking” and is a tribute to how Rickey Woodard answers his phone. Bill Cunliffe always brings the best out of any piano, keyboard or organ he touches. This project is no exception and he tackles all three instruments with spirit and style. I enjoyed Doug’s expressive way of slow-swinging “Lover Man” on his guitar. In the past, Doug MacDonald has worked with such notables as Buddy Rich, Ray Charles, Bill Holman, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Jack Sheldon and too many more to mention here. Overall, this is an enjoyable listen from beginning to end. “Overtones” is a solid forty-three minutes of great music interpreted by an All-star Octet and guitarist, producer, arranger and composer, Doug MacDonald. By the way, the cover is beautifully designed. Take a bow Shaina House!

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