Los Angeles-based guitarist Doug MacDonald just happens to be one of the most active recording musicians in the country, with three releases in 2021 alone and at least two more dating back to 2019. Add to that list, this 2022 recording of Overtones
and you can understand MacDonald's devotion to producing music as evidenced by his large discography. A prolific composer, MacDonald's eight-track repertoire consist almost entirely of original compositions, with the only exception being a fine rendition of Ram Ramirez's "Lover Man," which settles in as the only ballad of the set. The majority of the music is lively, ranging from medium tempo to plain old swinging bebop.
The guitarist assembles a world-class group of musicians from Los Angeles, naming the band "The L.A. All-Star Octet." In tweaking the make-up of the group Macdonald states: "I prefer the sound of two brass and two saxophones" over the standard use of only three horns. To that end, he enlisted the services of Aaron Janik
on trumpet and Ira Nepus
on trombone, while filling the saxophones with long-time musical collaborator Rickey Woodard
on tenor and the great Kim Richmond
on alto. The rhythm section is top-notch, with Bill Cunliffe
on the keys backed up by Chuck Berghofer
on bass and Roy McCurdy
on the drums. The legendary drummer Paul Kreibich
makes an appearance on the shaker in track two.
Coming out of the gate in full swinging mode, the band takes "Night by Night" from a charming opening intro by the guitarist to a swinging burner full of solos from all. Commissioned by California State University Fullerton music program, the original "Bossa for PK,' is bossa nova-styled number featuring delightful solos from the leader and Richmond on one of the best tracks of the session dedicated to Professor Paul Kreibich. Inspired by the Miles Davis
Quintet's "Blues by Five," MacDonald's "Blues by Eight" is a jumping number filling in the blues spot of the set.
Drummer McCurdy's pounding intro to "Over #21" ushers in perhaps the only hard-driving hard-bop number of the album, an aggressive short and gyrating piece of music. The finale original "Rickey Speaking," is a tribute to saxophonist Rickey Woodard's fifth recording with the guitarist, showcasing the versatile reedman's tenor voice on this swinging piece of music.
With the cast of remarkable musicians supporting Doug MacDonald who, provides the writing, playing and leadership, one cannot go wrong with these seasoned professionals weighing so heavily in the outcome of a recording. Accordingly, Overtones
is a rousing success. Truly an exceptional musical statement from a great band of musicians and a fine leader.
Night by Night; Bossa for PK; Blues by Eight; Hortense; Lover Man; Over #21; Ground Up;