For those who thought that guitarist Doug MacDonald's happy-go-lucky jazz marathon had crossed the finish line with the release more than a year ago of Just for Fun, the good news is that MacDonald and his talented teammates have found their second wind and the marathon continues through a second effervescent two-CD session taped at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Redondo Beach, CA. The group remains largely intact, with trumpeter Carl Saunders and saxophonist Pete Christlieb added and trombonist Linda Small, bassist Jim Hughart and pianists John Campbell and Josh Nelson replacing Les Benedict, Luther Hughes, Llew Mathews and Andy Langham, respectively, with no discernible loss in continuity or quality.
As before, the bill of fare consists for the most part of well-known jazz standards with one original by MacDonald ("Bossa Don") pressed onto Disc 2. This time around, there are no songs from the Great American Songbook as there were on Just for Fun, which included seven. The rationale remains the same: to use front-liners in various formats with a rotating pair of rhythm sections to produce an almost uninterrupted flow of music that lasts for several hours (i.e., a marathon), an idea first proposed to MacDonald by longtime friend Don Thomson. It's the kind of enterprise that could be impaired by the presence of one or more weak links; happily, there are no slackers to be found on this bandstand.
Be advised that the "marathon" is likely to try your attention span, as no number on either disc runs for less than seven minutes and the Ellington medley lingers for more than sixteen, as does Foster's Basie touchstone, "Shiny Stockings." For those who hunker down for the long haul, however, their forbearance will be amply rewarded. MacDonald and friends offer more than one hundred-thirty minutes of scintillating small-group jazz, almost every one of which is explicitly persuasive and well worth taking to heart.
Disc 1 Our Delight; ‘Round Midnight; Strollin’; Con Alma; Confirmation; Daahoud. Disc 2 Ellington medley (Just Squeeze Me / What Am I Here For / Sophisticated Lady / Cottontail); Bossa Don (Don’s Delight); Blue Capers; Whisper Not; Shiny Stockings; Sonnymoon for Two.
Doug MacDonald: guitar (1, 3, 4, 6-12); Carl Saunders: trumpet (1, 2, 8, 9, 11, 12); Bob Summers: trumpet (1, 3, 6, 9, 11, 12); Lanny Morgan: alto sax (1, 4, 5, 8-12); Pete Christlieb: tenor sax (1, 3, 6, 7, 9-12); Rickey Woodard: tenor sax (1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 11, 12); Linda Small: trombone (1, 7, 9, 11, 12); John Campbell: piano (1-3, 7-9); Josh Nelson: piano (4-6, 10-12); Jim Hughart: bass (4-7, 10-12); John B. Williams: bass (1-3, 8, 9); Paul Kreibich: drums (4-6, 10-12); Roy McCurdy: drums (1-3, 7-9).