Over the years, guitarist Doug MacDonald has showcased his deftness, artsy cool and versatility in a wide variety of settings, from the big bands of Bill Holman, Ray Anthony and John Clayton to his 13 piece ensemble The Jazz Coalition.
Organisms, his 14th album as a leader, is his first in years to be attributed to the Doug MacDonald Quartet, and it’s a classic organ fired group that reflects a brisk and effortless, soulful and crackling camaraderie between him and three well-traveled, always innovative vets - Hammond B-3 master Carey Frank (Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jane Monheit), tenorman Bob Sheppard (Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard) and drummer Ben Scholz (Roy Hargrove, Esperanza Spalding).
Interspersed among snazzy romps through classics like the opener “It’s You or No One” and Harry “Sweets” Edison’s raucous blues gem “Centerpiece” are three original tracks that showcase MacDonald’s own formidable prowess as a composer of many moods.
While the snappy “Jazz For All Occasions” and slow building percussive jam “L&T” find him intuitively balancing his own solos with those by each member of the unit, the sensual, reflective “Hortense” allows him to create all the emotional highs and lows on his own. The other MacDonald solo tracks offering balance to the swinging ensemble action are “Poor Butterfly” and a beautifully rendered medley of “Nina Never Knew/Indian Summer.”