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When I listen to music, jazz in particular, I listen instinctually for two things: artistry or craftsmanship. On guitarist Doug MacDonald’s "Blue Capers" I hear craftsmanship, but not any one thing that really stands out as unique or different or exciting enough to warrant artistry. Sporting a thin, bland tone and commonplace ideas that lack any strong sense of jazz rhythm, MacDonald doesn’t command this listener’s attention. The liner notes list Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and Grant Green as influences, but I don’t hear it. Where’s the groove? His colleagues respond in kind: they sound as if they are performing at a senior citizen’s dance and are afraid to "mess up" the time, or elderly dancers. Pianist Art Hillery’s "Emma Lu" is an unsuccessful attempt at Coltrane-esque Afro-Cuban with a bridge as forgettable as they come. Most of MacDonald’s solos end up in chords, and what he plays is more like an accompaniment than a solo. "Ori’s Theme" displays more of MacDonald’s rhythmic ineptness and harmonic blandness. Maybe that L.A. sun was particularly hot that day, and the boys were a little tired, but there just isn’t any strong dynamics or sense of urgency here. Jazz is supposed to pop off the "2-and-4" accent...this music simply doesn’t, and doesn’t swing.
Track Listing: 1. Blue Capers 2. Emma Lu 3. Until The Real Thing Comes Along 4. Ori's Theme 5. Bluesology 6. Whats New 7. So Danco Samba 8. A Little Tutu 9. Thinking Of You 10. I Thought About You 11. Bolton's Bossa
Personnel: Doug MacDonald, g, Art Hillery, p, John Heard, b, Johnny Kirkwood, d
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.