Originally from Philadelphia, Doug MacDonald started out as a jazz guitarist in Hawaii, working with trombonist Trummy Young, altoist Gabe Balthazar, and Del Courtney at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. During a period in Las Vegas, he performed in lounges and showrooms with such greats as Joe Williams, trombonist Carl Fontana, and tenor-saxophonist Jack Montrose. He has been a fixture in Los Angeles for many years, playing with the big bands of Bill Holman, Ray Anthony, and John Clayton and with such classic performers as Ray Charles, Rosemary Clooney, Buddy Rich, Sarah Vaughan, Stan Getz, trumpeter Jack Sheldon, pianist Hank Jones and bassist Ray Brown. For his thirteenth album as a leader, and third organ project, he is joined by organist Carey Frank (Tedeschi Trucks Band, Eric Marienthal, Jane Monheit, Bob Mintzer, the Phat Cat Swingers), drummer Ben Scholz (Roy Hargrove, Esperanza Spalding, Buddy Guy, Bill Watrous, Aaron Neville) and tenor saxophonist Bob Sheppard (Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Mike Stern, Michael and Randy Brecker, Peter Erskine, Billy Childs, Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell etc.).

There is something about a Hammond B3 in the hands of a master which is incredibly compelling (likewise it also makes me often think of horrible holiday camps if in the hands of someone who just thinks they are a master). Although MacDonald is the band leader, he is more than happy to sit at the back and let the others have their time in the spotlight. Scholz is the one who has to keep it altogether while the others bounce off each other, all knowing when to take the lead and when to hand it over. Indeed, there is so much organ on this album that one would expect it to have been driven by an organist as a opposed to a guitarist, but MacDonald has put his stamp over all the arrangements as well as providing three originals. Fresh, interesting and exciting, the almost staccato sound of the guitar is wonderfully complemented by the drawn-out sounds of the organ, while the sax moves between the two and the drums fills in the rest of the spaces. One to savour.

Rating: 8/10


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