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"TURN"
Sea Breeze Jazz SB-3061
Doug MacDonald with The Jazz Winds/Brass Coalition
Reviewed August 2003 by Phil McCarthy for THE JAZZ CONNECTION


Doug MacDonald proves, once again, to be one of the most inventive, imaginative jazz leaders around. His new release, "Turn" (Sea Breeze Jazz SB-3061), introduces nontraditional instrumentation in the form of a 13-piece band. In his "Jazz Winds/Brass Coalition" MacDonald pairs up with pianist Jimmie Dykes, taking advantage of his composing and arranging skills to the benefit of us all.

Whether we are listening to a woodwind quintet or a brass quintet/quartet, at the heart of the matter is the rhythm section of piano, Dykes; bass, Harvey Newmark, and Jack LeCompte on drums. Always out of the textures created by Bobby Shulgold on flutes, Phil Feather (oboe/English horn), Dave Hill (clarinet), Bob Carr (bassoon/Eb contralto clarinet)- or the attack of Bob Summers and Jack Coan (coronet/flugelhorn), Stephanie O'Keefe (French horn), Rodger Bissell (trombone) and Les Benedict (tuba/bass trombone), we hear the solid jazz guitar of Doug MacDonald. Obviously influenced by Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, et al, it can be clearly heard that this is Doug MacDonald.

With references back to "Salt Peanuts, "the very first cut "Crystal Room" erases all doubt about the ability of woodwinds to "swing," and as the different sections are used, what a feeling you get- of a much larger band. In fact, counting all of the instruments played, it is larger than that perfect 16-piece jazz orchestra.

"920 Special" and "What am I Here For" continue to prove how wonderful these arrangements area. The recording technique is also very reminiscent of the best Henry Mancini sounds. The "Grove" is in the sound.

"La Femme" is a wonderful and pleasant surprise! This exotic arrangement takes full advantage of the oboe, flute and bassoon combination. All of Doug's talents are displayed on the standard "Ghost of a Chance," a great vehicle to billboard his style including his use of "ghost" notes.

"It's You or No One" starts as a woodwind chamber piece, then watch out!! Hard driving, swinging featuring trumpet, bass and guitar. The atonal "Turn" really tests your listening and your jazz chops as a listener. Who knew that hard driving, swinging was sourced by the atonal opening. Great stuff!

Doug refers to the hip-hop rhythm on "Strange Cheese Sandwich." I say it is a great bass line that starts you moving. It uses all the bass elements to maximum effect. Nothing gets in the way.

The quality and execution of the last four songs is equal to the first. Most importantly, they leave you looking forward to Doug Macdonald's choruses. His playing is so much more mature than the first time The Jazz Connection heard him-20 years ago. Obviously, he is a student of the art form, jazz. We should be thankful we get to attend his classes.

Catch Doug is person if you can. His is a show not to be missed.


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LA Jazz Scene, October 2003

"TURN"
Guitarist Doug MacDonald and The Jazz Winds/Brass Coalition looks back at the turn of the century with fond memories of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and all the others who made Jazz swing for millions of fans. This big band, however, swings with a different tonality and a unique disposition. The ensemble's melding of Classical music with Jazz brings an appreciable charm to each arrangement. Supporting MacDonald's warm guitar lead is: a woodwind quartet, a brass quintet, and an augmented rhythm section. An oboe solo, an English horn jam, a bassoon caricature or a tuba soliloquy make the listener feel right at home, as the band interprets warm melodies from both worlds. Pianist Jimmy Dykes contributed three gems, MacDonald added two originals, and he's selected seven classic pieces to interpret with this one-of-a-kind big band. Atonal pieces follow standard harmonies, and Latin rhythms stand beside calmer pastures. Swing, however, remains a common bond. "920 Special" includes references to Count Basie's golden years and the insertion of an atonal interlude section. Phil Feather's oboe, Bobby Shulgold's flutes and Bob Carr's bassoon color the exotic "La Femme" with pastels that recall Ravel and a world of splendor. While "The Red Door" recalls the cool manner of Zoot Sims and Gerry Mulligan, MacDonald has, decided to give it a makeover through the interweaving of standard harmony with a little dissonance. English horn, tuba, bassoon, and Bob Summers' solo trumpet give the standard tune a big lift. The title track, "Turn," takes the listener on a journey through Jazz's history and toward its future development. Without growth, anything would become commonplace and ordinary. Doug ensures that Jazz has a place to turn to that allows for change without sacrificing tradition.

-- Jim Santella


--------------------------- - Jazz Connection


Discography

Our CD on Sea Breeze Jazz "TURN" released about two years ago is played on jazz stations in the USA
and overseas.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

We have been performing concerts and jazz clubs
in and around the Los Angeles area.
The LA Times has reveiwed our group as well as The La Jazz Sceane magazine.
Airplay on radio acrooss the country.
This is the only group of it's kind in the world.