• Jonathan Widran

DOUG MacDONALD, Live in Hawaii

Aside from being wildly prolific as a recording artist, one thing’s for sure about internationally acclaimed veteran Philly bred, Los Angeles based guitarist Doug MacDonald – he loves mixing it up with a wide variety of ensembles.

Just in the past few years, he’s knocked it out of the swinging park with The Tarmac Ensemble, the Doug MacDonald Quartet and the Doug MacDonald Duo (with bassist Harvey Newmark). His latest collection, the engaging, spirited, rhythmically freewheeling and infectiously exotic Live In Hawaii is billed as a solo album but is another classic quartet date – this time featuring two Hawaiian natives – vibraphonist Noel Okimoto and bassist Dean Taba – and drummer Darryl Pelligrini, who’s worked with legends (Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie) but now lives and teaches in Hawaii.


The set, which rolls from the bustling jam arrangement of “My Shining Hour” through the cheery and playful, yet confidently strutting, vibes-happy “Stranger in Paradise,” was recorded at the Hawaii Public Radio’s Atherton Performing Arts Studio in Honolulu. In leading a tasty set mixing classics (Lester Young’s “Lester Leaps In,” the Charlie Parker popularized “Star Eyes”) with lush, Brazilian tinged originals (“Cat City Samba,” “Bossa Don”), MacDonald celebrates his own unique connections to the islands.


While based for years out of SoCal, he began his career performing in Hawaii with big band greats Trummy Young, Gabe Baltazar and Del Courtney. Since then, for the guitarist, it’s been nothing short of an dynamic, multi-faceted journey featuring powerful ensemble action with too many jazz greats to mention. It’s great to see him come home and so engagingly bring everything full circle on Live in Hawaii.