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Album Review

Doug MacDonald: I'll See You in My Dreams

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Doug MacDonald: I'll See You in My Dreams
There is at least one constant in guitarist Doug MacDonald's long and rewarding career: he likes to stay busy, whether hosting live gigs or inhabiting a recording studio. MacDonald's latest quartet session, I'll See You in My Dreams, is at least his twenty- ninth as leader of groups of various sizes and shapes. It is also a homecoming of sorts, as MacDonald is reunited here with the co-leaders of one of his earlier employers, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, namely bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, with pianist Tamir Hendelman (from the Jeff Hamilton Trio) rounding out the quartet. No one could wish for a more able rhythm section than that.

Even so, the success or failure of an album often rests in large measure on the choice of material, and MacDonald has chosen wisely, using a pair of his engaging compositions ("New Mark," "More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows") to complement seven admirable standards from the Great American Songbook, opening with Isham Jones/Gus Kahn's title song, a charmer that was also the name of a splendid Hollywood film from 1951 starring Danny Thomas as the songwriter Gus Kahn and Doris Day as his love interest and wife. While "Dreams" is usually played as a ballad, MacDonald's ensemble accelerates the tempo to make it a brisk and enjoyable two-step.

Hamilton shows on the curtain-raiser, as he does elsewhere, that sticks aren't essential when it comes to swinging; brushes will do quite nicely (even though he is no less superlative when trading brushes for sticks). Meanwhile, Clayton demonstrates why he is widely considered one of the jazz world's foremost bassists, while Hendelman comps and solos with finesse and assurance. This is a quartet that never drops the ball, regardless of tempo or modulation. The interactions are seamless, the goal always squarely in the crosshairs: tasteful music that swings and entertains.

As for the songs, they encompass such gems as Duke Ellington's "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good"), Kurt Weill's "My Ship," Cole Porter's "Easy to Love," Henry Nemo's "'Tis Autumn," the relatively lesser-known but equally likeable "Don'cha Go 'Way Mad" and buoyant finale, Matt Dennis/Tom Adair's enchanting "Will You Still Be Mine." MacDonald shines on every one, as do his earnest and sure-handed teammates. Those who are looking for small-group sessions that soar and sparkle need look no further than this.

Track Listing

I’ll See You in My Dreams; I Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good); Don’cha Go ‘Way Mad; My Ship; New Mark; Easy to Love; ‘Tis Autumn; More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows; Will You Still Be Mine.

Personnel

Doug MacDonald: guitar; Tamir Hendelman: piano; John Clayton: drums; Jeff Hamilton: drums.

Album information

Title: I'll See You in My Dreams | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Self Produced


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