Friday, February 5, 2021

Doug MacDonald Duo - Toluca Lake Jazz

 © Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“Guitarist Doug MacDonald and bassist Harvey Newmark perform a set of swinging jazz duets on Toluca Lake Jazz. Interpreting seven standards and six MacDonald originals, the duo creates an exquisite set of light-toned but hard-swinging music.”

Releasing today on CD, guitarist Doug MacDonald’s Toluca Lake Jazz [DM 18] is a source of nostalgia for me.

The “Toluca Lake” in its title is drawn from an area in the San Fernando Valley northeast of Los Angeles and I went to high school in a community close by and my friendship with Harvey Newmark, the bassist on the recording, dates back to 1959. My goodness, talk about sentimentality, that was a long time ago!

Doug and Harvey form an easy listening duet that interprets seven standards and six MacDonald originals in a “light-toned but hard-swinging” style.

The standards give you the chance to set your ears on familiar melodies while the originals take your ears in new directions.

The standards include Flamingo, Baubles, Bangles and Beads, These Foolish Things, If I Had You, Easy Living, with Harvey taking solo honors on Easy Living. Doug’s chose one of his originals - Is This It? - as a platform for his solo guitar spotlight, but there’s so much space in the way they play together that there’s plenty of room to distinctly hear what each instrumentalist has to say.

There’s a certain grace and simplicity to the music on this CD that is especially apropos during the trying times associated with the pandemic.

The pace of living has slowed considerably while we grasp how best to deal with the challenges of the disease, and the beautiful music on Toluca Lake Jazz provides for a pleasant respite from the demands of safety, distancing and isolation. 

Doug has sequenced the tracks in such a way so as to create enough contrast in the sound of the music to guard against a sameness in sonority by two string instruments.

The music creates moods that are reflective, joyous and wistful. Each melody is carefully crafted and the solos by each player are always inventive. This is an album by two Pros at work. 

Doug has a great facility which allows him to get around the guitar almost effortlessly, although he doesn’t overplay the instrument. Harvey has always had a big, rich booming sound on bass and it would seem that some things never change as the full range of his technique is on display here.

Jim Eigo of sent along to following media which further offers further details about the musicians and the music on Toluca Lake Jazz.

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 it were one musician playing a single instrument with four hands.

Toluca Lake Jazz features swinging versions of such beloved standards as "Flamingo" (a baliad 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 Biues," "Easy Living" (which has some particularly close interplay by the musicians) and a cooking "If i Had You."

MacDonald's originals include an uptempo "Toluca Lake Jazz" {originally composed for his big band), his unaccompanied "Is This It," "Desert Jazz" (featuring both of the musicians sharing the melody), the augmented blues "De-Ha," "Pieasante Pleasant" (named after drummer Tim Pleasant), and "New World' which is loosely based on "It's A Blue World" and has close interplay by the two players.

Long a major force in Southern California as a guitarist, bandleader and composer, Doug MacDonald is originally from Philadelphia and spent periods living and playing in Hawaii (where he worked with Trummy Young, Gabe Baltazar and Del Courtney) and in Las Vegas, performing at the latter with Joe Williams, Carl Fontana, and Jack Montrose. Since settling in Los Angeles, he has been a sideman with such notables as Bill Holman, Ray Anthony, Rosemary Clooney, Jack Sheldon, Bob Cooper, Buddy Rich, and Ray Charles. However. MacDonald has made his greatest impact as the leader of his own groups and with his long series of inventive and rewarding recordings-

Harvey Newmark was born in Hollywood, took up the bass as a teenager, and has since worked with the who's who of jazz including Buddy Rich, Bill Holman, Lew Tabackin, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Super Sax. Terence Blanchard, Carmen McRae, Joe Henderson. Anita O'Day and Cal Tjader plus the LA Philharmonic and several symphony orchestras. He has also performed with Doug MacDonald in a variety of groups during the past 15 years.

Throughout Toluca Lake Jazz. Doug MacDonald and Harvey Newmark create easily enjoyable music that is melodic (always keeping the melody in mind), filled with subtle surprises, and often magical.



Artist Website:

Release Date: February 5, 2021

Label: Doug MacDonald Music

Catalog Number: DM18

UPC Code: 195999207346

1.  Flamingo (Anderson/Grouya, 1941 tempo music)   4:06

2.  My Little Boat (Boscoli, Universal MCA Music, Ltd.)    3:48

3.  Baubles, Bangles, and Beads (Wright/Forrest, Frank Music Corp,}   3:02

4.  These Foolish Things (Strachey/Marvel, Boosey and Co., Ltd.)    4:52

5.  Toluca Lake Jazz (MacDonald, dmacmusic)   5:28

6.  Is This it? (MacDonald, dmacmusic)   2:17

7.  Desert Jazz (MacDonald, dmacmusic)    3:34

8.  Village Blues (Coltrane, Warner Music Group)   4:25

9.  De-Ha {MacDonald. dmacmusic)    4:02

10.  Easy Living (Robin/Rainger, Famous Music Corp.)    5:05

11.  Pleasante Pleasant (MacDonald, dmacmusic)   3:16

12.  If I Had You (Shapiro/Connelly/Campbell, Sony ATV Music Publishing LLC)   4:59

13.  New World (MacDonald, dmacmusic)   4:49 Total CD time:   51:42

You can locate order information about the recording as well as other CDs on Doug’s own label by going here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your comments here. Thank you.