Jazz interview with jazz guitarist and composer Doug MacDonald. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Doug MacDonald: – I grew up in Hawaii and got interested in music from hearing all the live music that was around in those days.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
DM: – The sounds that I liked on the guitar were the combination of all the great players from Johnny Smith to Wes Montgomery George Van Eps to Kenny Burrell. I learned to combine the pick and fingers.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
DM: – Studying composition and conducting helped improve the musical skills in many areas including rhythm.
JBN: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?
DM: – Thank you, Harmony and dissonance is part of the arrangers tools it can be harmonic but also atonal. I think the idea is to find your own voice in this area and of course the guitar lends itself to beautiful extended chords.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
DM: – Through experience knowing what to use in a performance and what to leave out also some things are better as a study then in a live concert.
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
DM: – Good question, it has to be a delicate balance, I think you must learn that music is mathematics numbers and patterns but the emotion is what makes it magical!
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
DM: – Yes it’s about communication look at Louis Armstrong he could play for any audience and be a big hit!
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
DM: – I remember playing many times to look up and see a great musician in the house Joe Pass, Herb Ellis, Howard Roberts, Joe Henderson, Horace Silver, Dave Brubeck ,wow it makes you nervous !!!!
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
DM: – We need to expose them to this, hopefully our students and young players will get them interested.
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
DM: – It is a total expression of your life all your experiences and your emotions people can sense this in a performance.
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
DM: – Better treatment for artistic music and musicians, it is American Classical music!!!
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
DM: – A lot of orchestral sounds to hear the voice leading, also hearing great tunes that are not overdone.
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
DM: – Solid swing, good tone, happy positive messages.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
DM: – You can”t go backwards these are the good old days. Let’s learn from the past but live in the moment.
JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
DM: – How do you feel we can market ourselves better in the word of technology?
JBN: – Thanks for answers, No, of course … 🙂
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
DM: – Go straight ahead be positive not pessimistic, follow though!! Thanks so much!
Interview by Simon Sargsyan