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Doug MacDonald and the L.A. All-Star Octet - Overtones (Dmac Music)

14 March 2022

Quickly following up last year’s understated gem Serenade to Highland Park, guitarist Doug MacDonald expands his lineup for Overtones. While still sticking to his bebop and hard bop-derived jazz, he adds a pianist and four-piece horn section, painting his compositions with a bigger variety of colors. Check out the nifty bossa nova “Bossa For PK,” which pairs the guitarist with alto saxist Kim Richmond for some clever crosstalk, or the funky “Over #21,” which lets the horns lay down some tasty harmonized riffs to compliment the leader’s six-string mastery. A cover of Ram Ramirez’s standard “Lover Man” luxuriates in beauty over sentimentality, while the swinging “Ground Up” emphasizes melody and rhythmic pleasure. Underscoring his devotion to communication over attack, on the waltzing “Hortense” MacDonald trades melodic solos with both saxophones and Bill Cunliffe’s blacks and whites in a way that sounds more like a conversation than musicians taking turns showing off. MacDonald and his octet aren’t breaking new ground, but they’re not trying to – instead they just make music they want to hear and have a good time doing it.