Guitarist Doug MacDonald latest release, “Califournia Quartet” is a fascinating exercise in classic jazz played new. The album is a mix of songs from the American songbook and originals.
About “Califournia Quartet” by Doug MacDonald
What stands out is MacDonald’s original work. The songs “Malapropisms” and “San Rafael” are two interesting pieces that demonstrate what MacDonald can do. In both of the songs, string instruments, guitar and upright bass, namely, take on charming characteristics that allow them to carry the soundscape without overwhelming pieces. The songs are easy to listen to, but could be danced to just as easily. There is enough shimmer and pounding of drums to harken back to the days of classic jazz to show that members of the group understand the history of the genre.
“Malapropisms” jumps into its opening with a blare of horns. That horn-rich beginning is soon accompanied by guitar and drums. The guitar showcase is a swinging delight that adds an extra layer of texture. The saxophone showcase follows this. It is brash and clear. The drums keep the song moving even between and after showcases.
“San Rafael” has a lilting, relaxed feel. The guitar is open-sounding. The bass plays in wide, yawning notes. The saxophone guides the soundscape and also mixes well with the others in the instrumentation. There is a beauty here as well as serious jazz turns. The upright bass showcase is a nice touch, too. The stellar playing on “Califournia Quartet” does not sound like a debut album; the songs instead feel lived in, in a good way.
About Doug MacDonald
As the name of the quartet suggests MacDonald and the musicians he plays with are from California. California has long been associated with the entertainment industry, and there is no exception in relation to jazz.
The four members have made their own names in clubs throughout Los Angeles and several other places throughout the US. MacDonald has been the leader on a dozen albums (this is his first with this group).
MacDonald has enjoyed performance stints in such places as Hawaii, New York and Las Vegas before settling in California. While developing his playing skills, MacDonald had opportunities to play with such luminaries as Rosemary Clooney and Ray Charles and several others. He plays with other combos and as well as in the big band The Jazz Coalition.
On “Califournia Quartet,” MacDonald is joined by Kim Richmond on alto sax, flute and soprano sax; Harvey Newmark on bass, and Paul Kreibich on drums.
While “Califournia Quartet” is new this year, its classic bop feel and groovy arrangements make the work sound as if it came from another time. Because of the way it is executed, it makes for great listening. A must-listen for jazz fans.