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May 2007

Doug Macdonald
Gentle Rain
Sea Breeze

The veteran West Coast guitarist exhibits a warm, inviting tone, remarkably fluid technique and sure-footed sense of swing on this effortlessly swinging session with bassist Harvey Newmark, drummer Jack Le Compte and the late, great pianist Ross Tompkins (pianist Marty Harris appears on two tracks). MacDonald displays some sophisticated chordal voicings and nimble single-note lines on a beautifully relaxed rendition of “Once in a While” and plays with rare finesse on the beautiful ballad “A Handful of Stars.” He burns a blue streak on up-tempo numbers like “Symphony” and “Idaho,” then demonstrates a real adeptness at unaccompanied solo guitar on the title track, an alluring Luis Bonfa samba.

MacDonald’s nonchalant sense of swinging at easy mid tempos, as on “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” or “Sweet and Lovely,” is one of his strengths. And he plays with Jim Hall-like delicacy and empathy on a lovely, intimate duet with pianist Tompkins on “These Foolish Things Remind Me of You.” Nice touch by turning “Picnic,” the haunting theme from the steamy William Holden-Kim Novak film from 1955, into a buoyant bossa nova. And he caps it off with just a touch of grease by covering Jimmy Smith’s “Back at the Chicken Shack.” Although this is his ninth release as a leader, MacDonald remains largely unrecognized outside of the Los Angeles area. Fans of straight ahead swinging jazz guitar in the tradition of Joe Pass, Herb Ellis and Barney Kessel should pay attention to this guy.

Originally published in May 2007
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