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Doug MacDonald - Sextet Session (Dmac)

28 February 2024

Guitarist/composer Doug MacDonald has somehow never been a household name in the jazz world. That’s odd, given the longevity of his career (forty years and counting), his ability to place himself comfortably in different contexts, and his skill in the playing style of pioneers like Barney Kessell and Kenny Burrell. Who knows if Sextet Session will change that, but it’s doubtful MacDonald cares about that as much as he cares about successfully executing his ideas. In that he’s right on. With a strong brace of originals and a few standards that haven’t yet been beaten into the ground, MacDonald and his five sidepeople prove the continued worth of straightahead jazz. Brisk tempos and catchy riffs propel “Gee’s Flat,” “Si Miner,” and “Try Ads,” while “AT #33” moves at a synth guitar (!) frosted funky shuffle. MacDonald has a special touch with ballads, both as an arranger and a soloist, as displayed on the Bill Corey and Carl Fischer tune “You’ve Changed.” Calling MacDonald solid and dependable here sounds like faint praise, but it’s really not – the guitarist’s obvious love for his craft and his skill in bringing that to light make Sextet Session a straightahead jazz lover’s dream.