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 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.”
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,” “Pleasante 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 L.A. 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.