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New Release From Doug MacDonald, “I’ll See You In My Dreams”

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JGT contributor Joe Barth talks to Southern California area guitarist Doug MacDonald about his new album project, “I’ll See You In My Dreams”.

One of the great traditional jazz guitarists in the Southern California area is Doug MacDonald. Born in Philadelphia, Doug began his professional career in Hawaii playing at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel with the great Bay Area band leader Del Courtney who had relocated to Honolulu. Doug lived in Las Vegas for a year before settling down in the Los Angeles area.  One can hear the richness of all jazz guitar history in Doug’s playing but especially the influence of Barney Kessel. 

JB: I know you were born in Philadelphia and started playing professionally in Hawaii, but how old were you when you started to play jazz guitar, and what was most helpful in your personal development as a guitarist?

DM:  I started playing guitar and trombone at age thirteen and got into jazz around age fifteen after starting with the blues.  The most helpful thing in my development was to learn from being around musicians that really knew this music.

JB:  To you, what are three of the most influential jazz guitar albums?

DM:  The Johnny Smith album on Verve Records, then Wes Montgomery’s first trio album on Riverside Records. The first guitar album I really got into was BB King’s Blues is King on the Bluesway label.  Each of these albums had a profound effect on me in that they showed me how to approach the guitar. Some of my other favorite guitarists are George Van Eps, Kenny Burrell, and Jim Hall.

JB:  Tell me about your musical experience in Las Vegas and then what brought you to Los Angeles.

DM:  Las Vegas got me into playing with such musical greats as trombonist Carl Fontana, and singer Carson Smith. But, after a year I needed to go where there was more of a jazz scene and Los Angeles was closer than New York.

JB:  Talk about your experience of working with drummer Jeff Hamilton, bassist John Clayton, and pianist Tamir Hendelman on your new album I’ll See You in My Dreams.

DM:  The new quartet CD was a real pleasure to work on with these three musicians. It was a group effort with everyone making suggestions and contributions. I am happy with the variety of sounds that we achieved.

I’ll See You In My Dreams

JB:  What about your career today that you find rewarding?

DM:  The most rewarding thing is continuing to grow my skills in arranging, composing, and playing! I’ve simply never lost my love affair for warm notes, a good standard, and striving for the best performance.

JB:  Tell us about the guitar and amp that you use.

DM:  I really like the Benedetto La Venezia model and the Henriksen Bud SIX amp!


JB:  What advice would you give to young jazz guitarists?

 DM:  Be persistent in your development and in self-promotion, marketing, and networking!  It’s the nature of the business today.  You can’t just wait for your phone to ring.  You got to get yourself out there!


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