The term "all-star" is not one to be used lightly. Be that as it may, the appellation fits guitarist Doug MacDonald's Los Angeles-based octet as snugly as a glove; he and his colleagues are among the finest, most experienced and in-demand musicians on the West Coast. On Overtones, recorded in September 2021, the ensemble shows its mastery by gracefully skating through seven of MacDonald's upbeat themes and one standard, Ram Ramirez' ardent "Lover Man."
As their c.v.'s speak for themselves, so do their solos, which are models of taste and consistency that never miss the mark. MacDonald's eloquent guitar is showcased on "Lover Man," Woodard's full-bodied tenor sax (with MacDonald and Cunliffe) on the free and easy finale, the leader's "Rickey Speaking." Cunliffe plays acoustic piano on seven numbers, electric piano on the light-hearted "Bossa for PK," Hammond B3 organ on the bluesy "Over #21." Rounding out the engaging program are MacDonald's "Night by Night," "Blues by Eight," "Hortense" and "Ground Up."
No, there is nothing new here apart from the personnel, framework of songs, their chord changes and enticing character. This is simply forty-five minutes of invariably charming music, played with spirit and enthusiasm by eight notably talented musicians whose sole aim is to please.
Night by Night; Bossa for PK; Blues by Eight; Hortense; Lover Man; Over #21; Ground Up;
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