Doug MacDonald and the L.A. All-Star Octet Album ‘Overtones’ Out Now

One of Los Angeles’ busiest jazz guitarists, Doug MacDonald is featured with his all-star octet on Overtones.

MacDonald and his group with Rickey Woodard and Kim Richmond perform the leader’s swinging originals and the guitarist’s feature on “Lover Man.”

To say that Doug MacDonald has been busy is always an understatement. Just in recent times he has released such albums as Toluca Lake Jazz, Live In Hawaii, Serenade To Highland Park, and now Overtones. The versatile guitarist, who is also a very skilled arranger-composer, shows on these four releases (not to mention at least 18 earlier ones) that he sounds quite comfortable in a wide variety of settings performing his brand of creative straight ahead jazz.

Overtones is a special release for it finds MacDonald leading an all-star band full of some of the top players based in the Los Angeles area. All are veterans with endless résumés including altoist Kim Richmond, tenor-saxophonist Rickey Woodard, trombonist Ira Nepus, pianist Bill Cunliffe, bassist Chuck Berghofer, drummer Roy McCurdy, and the relative newcomer (but quite experienced) trumpeter Aaron Janik. Each of the musicians is greatly in-demand but happy to perform the inventive compositions and arrangements of Doug MacDonald

Overtones is comprised of seven MacDonald originals plus the standard “Lover Man.” The set begins with “Night By Night,” a medium-tempo piece that introduces the band. Everyone but McCurdy gets to make a solo statement on the attractive piece which is a relative of “Shiny Stockings.”

The light but harmonically complex bossa nova “Bossa For PK” has an extended statement by the guitarist and Richmond with his beautiful tone. “Blues By Eight” gives MacDonald (who displays his own chord voicings), Woodard, Cunliffe, and Janik opportunities to swing the blues. The medium-tempo jazz waltz ‘Hortense” has colorful harmonies by the horns in the ensembles as does “Lover Man” which is the guitarist’s showcase. The funky “Over #21” is a change of pace (with some strong trombone from Nepus), preceding the intriguing “Ground Up” and the medium-tempo closer “Ricky Speaking.”

Doug MacDonald, who was raised in Philadelphia, gained extensive experience as a guitarist during periods in Hawaii and Las Vegas before making Southern California his home. Since then he has worked with such notables as Buddy Rich, Ray Charles, Bill Holman, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Jack Sheldon and many others, but has made his biggest impact as a leader. 

Whether leading trios, quartets, his earlier 13-piece ensemble The Jazz Coalition, or all-star combos such as the one on Overtones, Doug MacDonald can be relied upon to create memorable music that is infectious, joyful, and swinging.

Track listing

1. Night by Night (7:10)

2. Bossa for PK (6:25)

3. Blues by Eight (5:30)

4. Hortense (6:00)

5. Lover Man composed by Ram Ramirez (4:59)

6. Over #21 (4:03)

7. Ground Up (5:06)

8. Ricky Speaking (4:30)

All tracks composed by Doug MacDonald except where noted (track 5).

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