Connect with us

Artist News

L.A. Guitarist Doug MacDonald Releases New Trio Album



Edwin Alley is a wonderful new trio album by Los Angeles guitarist Doug MacDonald. JGT contributor Joe Barth talks to Doug.

For the guitar, the trio setting is a challenging yet rewarding showcase.  Starting in the late 1950s Barney Kessel pioneered in this format with his Poll Winner albums.  I caught up with Doug to ask him a few questions about the new record.

Doug MacDonald

JB: The album opens with an upbeat tune “Zoot and Pepper.”  Talk of the impact of saxophonists Zoot Sims and Pepper Adams upon you and your playing.

DM:  I had a Pepper Adams CD that had Zoot on it.  I really liked the unusual way that they worked together. Two very different concepts to playing!

JB:  With “Eyow/Is This It,” anything beyond the challenge of doing a contrafact (when a new melody is composed over the chord changes of an existing song) in composing it?  

DM:  It starts with a short solo guitar piece then goes into a jazz line which outlines the melodic nature of the changes. It was a challenge at that bright tempo that go in to.

JB:  What motivated you to call the album Edwin Alley?

DM:  The gig we do on Thursdays is in a historical part of old town Pasadena, we hoped to capture the mood of that location.

JB:  What do you appreciate most about your Benedetto guitar in composing a song to honor Bob Benedetto who built it?

DM:  I don’t believe anyone has done a musical tribute to Bob Benedetto. To me, the instrument is so great it inspired the composition.  The model that I am playing is the La Venezia.

JB:  Other than the time meter, any connection between your “Three for Two” and Paul Desmond’s “Take Five?”

DM:  Yes Mark Avila, who helped produce our album, asked us to do a tune in 5/4. I had another one with the meter as 2 and 3 but it didn’t flow as well as the 3 and 2 combination much like the Desmond composition. 

Kendall Kay (drums), Mike Flick (bass), and Doug MacDonald

JB:  Bassist Mike Flick and drummer Kendall Kay play superbly.  What do you appreciate most about these two musicians?

DM:  They are musicians with an elevated ability to listen and contribute to the creative ensemble. I also really appreciate that both players are so creative in their solos.

JB:  Other than the obvious higher pitch, what drew you to use the Coimbra or Portuguese guitar in the song “Groove Blues?”

DM:  My wife Eva is from the Azores islands in Portugal.  I really like the sound of that instrument in Fado music has such a colorful sound and I felt that it would be a great addition to jazz-style blues!  The double strings give it an unusual resonance!

JB:  Other than it is a cool title for a song, any connection between your song “Rapini” and Broccoli Rabe?

DM:  It is the same vegetable with the Rabe being sort of the east coast name of it. It has a very nice bitter green flavor.  Hope the tune does as well!

JB:  With “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” how much did you have in mind the classic version that Jim Hall, Paul Desmond, and Chet Baker did where they seem to finish each other’s phrases?

DM:  I love their version. They were such masters of linear contrapuntal improvisation. Also, a great lineup of musicians.  As you mentioned, I love the way they answer each other. I can’t help remembering that recording whenever we play the tune.

For more on Doug MacDonald

Subscribe to Jazz Guitar Today – it’s FREE!

Continue Reading