Title - 'Toluca Lake Jazz'
Artist - Doug MacDonald Duo
For those not in the know, there are some musicians who earn the label “a players player”. Individuals who possess a quality and integrity that peers look up to, not for mere bursts of blazing notes or chops, but for the perfection of their performances and the joy they bring.
Such a musician is West coast based Jazz journeyman guitarist Doug MacDonald.
Doug MacDonald and Harvey Newmark, two greatly in-demand players from Southern California, have worked together many times through the years, often in MacDonald's groups which range from trios to his 13-piece ensemble The Jazz Coalition.
The guitarist and the bassist are so complementary to each other's playing that they often seem to think as one, as if they were one musician playing a single instrument with four hands.
Their brand new album, Toluca Lake Jazz (coming out February 5th, 2021) features swinging versions of such beloved standards as 'Flamingo' (a ballad that is taken here at a medium-tempo pace), the classic bossa-nova 'My Little Boat,' a jazz waltz rendition of 'Baubles, Bangles and Beads, 'These Foolish Things' (featuring beautiful ballad playing from the guitarist), John Coltrane's 'Village Blues,' 'Easy Living' (which has some particularly close interplay by the musicians) and a cooking 'If I Had You.'
2. 'My Little Boat'
3. 'Baubles, Bangles and Beads'
4. 'These Foolish Things'
5. 'Toluca Lake Jazz'
6. 'Is This It?'
7. 'Desert Jazz'
8. 'Village Blues'
10. 'Easy Living'
11. 'Pleasante Pleasant'
12. 'If I Had You'
13. 'New World'
On an album that features seven jazz standard covers and six quite magnificent originals, they kick things off with the aforementioned medium-tempo, finger-snappin' pace of 'Flamingo' and never look back!
Next up is the classic bossa-nova hipsway of 'My Little Boat,' a stunning jazz waltz rendition of 'Baubles, Bangles and Beads,' and then we get a simply beautiful, easy breezy 'These Foolish Things' which is itself seamlessly backed by the foot-tappin' title track, 'Toluca Lake Jazz.'
Then we get one of my own personal favorites, the dulcet magnificence of the gently funky 'Is This It?' which is backed by the precise mechanisms found within the notes of 'Desert Jazz,' with a magnificent rendition of John Coltrane's 'Village Blues' following along nicely.
The fun and infectious melodies of 'De-Ha' are up next and is backed by some quite melodious interplay by the two musicians on 'Easy Living,' which is itself followed by more finger-snappin' melodies on 'Pleasante Pleasant,' with the album rounding out with the lush orchestrations of 'If I Had You,' closing on the smoothly vibrant 'New World.'