Sometimes, you can learn a lot from a title. Hopefully, It Doesn't End Here is a deliberate message that alto saxophonist Marc McDonald has a lot more left in him after his debut release as a leader.
McDonald has spent about 25 years as a sideman, playing various styles, including funk and cabaret. A native of London, he now resides in New York City, where he has been a participant in the ASCAP/Louis Armstrong Jazz Composers Workshop at Lincoln Center.
The title song features Steve Cardenas on electric guitar. McDonald's anthem is an easygoing, yet delightful track. Gene Lewin spices things up with his crisp drum and cymbals play, while bassist Karl Spicer and pianist Jim Ridl help underscore the leads. McDonald's solo goes through some high-speed paces, but each note is clearly distinctive. The ensemble does a pleasant if not ground-breaking turn on Cole Porter's "Night and Day." While McDonald's lead is the focal point of the song, the not-so-subtle background work by Lewin, Ridl and Spicer makes it complete.
Cardenas joins McDonald in the lead for "Hero Worship." Lewin mixes some rim shots in. Spicer and Ridl accent the piece. McDonald's freestyle solo, wailing during some of the more emphatic moments, shows why he has been in such demand over the years. Cardenas follows with a solo, at first, accompanied only by bass and drums, but later joined by piano. After Cardenas says his piece, Lewin puts the snare and toms through a few turns, before guitar and sax come back with the melody.
Eight of the eleven tracks were written by McDonald. But whether performing his own material or covering a standard, McDonald and his supporting cast form a tight unit. Regardless of who has the lead, all players are heard and stretch out freely. It Doesn't End Here is an excellent album with the suggested message that we'll be hearing more from Marc McDonald.
It Doesn't End Here; Floating; Night and Day; Three Sheets to the Wind; This Heart of Mine; Fade to Gold; Blue Skies; In Exile; Hero Worship; Till the Cows Come Home; You Laugh (But You'll Be There).
Marc McDonald: alto saxophone; Jim Ridl: piano; Steve Cardenas: guitar (1, 4, 6, 9, 11); Karl Spicer: bass; Gene Lewin: drums.