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  • Jonathan Widran

DOUG MACDONALD DUO, Toluca Lake Jazz

The once thriving jazz clubs in the lovely suburban (Burbank adjacent) section of L.A. known as Toluca Lake have been gone for decades, as are the Old Hollywooders (Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and W.C. Fields, among others) who heard jazz at the local Lakeside Golf Club.

But in the hands of the Doug MacDonald Duo – old friends and musical vets, guitarist Doug MacDonald and bassist Harvey Newmark – the vibrant, playfully swinging spirit of Toluca Lake Jazz comes alive via slyly imaginative, alternately reflective/soulful, coolly strutting and wildly adventurous spins through seven offbeat classics (from Coltrane’s “Village Blues” to the snazzy bossa blast “My Little Boat”) and six compelling, intricately crafted, arranged and expressed MacDonald originals that are on par creatively and thematically with the older material.


Collectively, MacDonald and Newmark have mile long resumes (Rosemary Clooney, Buddy Rich, Ray Charles for the guitarist, Carmen McRae, Joe Henderson and Cal Tjader for the bassist) and have played for years in some of MacDonald’s larger ensembles.


The beautifully inventive “single four handed musician” approach they take to Toluca Lake Jazz represents a colorful milestone in their shared history – and one that listeners will no doubt hope continues beyond this heartfelt project.