(LM Jazz 2017)
“Fans of Larry McDonough will find
no significant disconnect between
the two discs comprising Alice in
Stonehenge. Those encountering
him for the first time who are
generally drawn to acoustic music
will likely be surprised by how much
they enjoy the melodicism and energy
of the electric disc. And vice-versa:
Those generally favoring electronic
pop and rock will find themselves drawn to the romantic verve of the acoustic set. It's trite to say there's "something for everyone." More accurately, everything here is likely to appeal to music lovers of all persuasions, because every track brings a timeless tune delivered by steadfast talents--acoustic or electronic. The 2-volume title is a mash-up of the first tracks from each--Larry's take on Bill Evans' "Alice in Wonderland" and his re-arrangement of Spinal Tap's "Stonehenge." And on each disc Larry draws upon his recent shows--tributes to Chet Baker, Miles Davis, and Bill Evans and Tony Bennett, as well to the rock icons of Sting, Clapton, Spinal Tap, and more. Disc 1, like live shows, also includes the jazz-themed poetry of saxophonist Richard Terrill.
Jazz has long been Larry's wheelhouse, be it a majestic rearrangement of "Alice in Wonderland" that upgrades Alice to royalty or a fresh take on Chet Baker's "The Thrill Is Gone" where, without imitating Baker's voice, Larry evokes the pathos of a man who has lost more than the "thrill" of a relationship; Steve Kenny's trumpet parallels the singer's angst. Jazz treatment of "La Marseillaise?" Adding accordion to his arsenal, Larry's arrangement conveys that sense of swing despite the song's majestic, patriotic bent. Yet there is still a tinge of sadness, elegy reflecting the world's reaction to the recent Paris attacks as well as the song's origin as not only an anthem of national pride but a call to arms and resistance. Larry takes no fewer liberties on the electric set, reconfiguring time on all tracks, perhaps most surprisingly on Brubeck's already fractured "Take 5" (now "Take 7") and including a wide range of influences, from Prince ("The Question of U") to the melody fragments from individuals with disabilities, originally the Fingersteps and now the SpecAbilities project ("Funkabilities"). Unplug or plug in. It's pure Larry McDonough either way.”
Andrea Canter, JazzInk
“Not your mother's holiday album,
McDonough leads off with a tribal
groove along with drummer Chaz
Draper and bassist Craig Matarrese
on "My Favorite Things," enhanced
by echoes of Coltrane from saxman
Richard Terrill, then goes solo in
transforming "Jingle Bells" into an
elegant jazz ballad. Other popular
seasonal songs are given unfamiliar
treatments-- the dark shades of gray
on "Silent Night" and "Simple Gifts"; a delicate piano/sax duo reharmonizing "Little Drummer Boy" (sans drums!); a reconsidered "Ode to Joy" that sneaks in a snippet of Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby"; a "We Three Kings" that musically leans toward Bethlehem; and an "Angels We Have Heard On High" with staggering rhythms.... Spending the holidays with Larry McDonough is like the best of family reunions--getting reacquainted with relatives who seem so different from how we remember them, and so much more interesting.”
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Question: What Do Children With
Disabilities, Rachmaninoff, Bill
Evans, Cole Porter, The Gershwins,
Irving Berlin, Jeff Bridges, The
Middle East, The Star Spangled
Banner, Odd Meters, And
Award-Winning Minnesota Poetry
Have In Common?
Solitude includes unique interpretations of odd-metered originals based on melody fragments by children with disabilities, including my daughter Rosie; original poems by Minnesota Book Award winner and sax player Richard Terrill over variations on Rachmaninoff and Bill Evans; music from cinema; Broadway standards; international rhythms; and historical pieces.
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The first television performance of the
Larry McDonough Quartet, recorded
by Baby Blue Arts at Minnesota
Connection in Edina, Minnesota, for
viewing on public television stations
around the country, and on line at
performs two pieces first released on
the Simple Gifts CD, two new ones
penned by McDonough, and one
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“Larry McDonough’s long-awaited
new recording serves up divergent
delights, from a reconstructed holiday
chestnut to inside-out renditions
of jazz standards, from harmonically
and rhythmically altered traditional
melodies to a trio of original tunes.
With a feathery touch that recalls Bill
Evans but with more fingers and a unique approach to time that makes the most worn carol or standard a new adventure, Simple Gifts proves to be anything but “simple”—but, for those fortunate enough to hear this music, it is indeed a gift.”
--Andrea Canter, Jazz Police
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A compilation of performances of McDonough’s
original pieces and arrangements of jazz for high
school jazz ensemble, orchestra, and concert
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Dedicated to the memory of Paul and Sheila
Wellstone, Marcia Wellstone Markuson, Mary
McEvoy, Tom Lapic, and William McLaughlin,
it benefits Wellstone Action, a tax-exempt
organization formed to carry on their work.
It includes original music, as well as arrangements
of jazz, popular, religious, and historical music
in different times signatures and harmonies, such as "Amazing Grace" and "My Favorite Things" in 5/4, and "We Shall Overcome" (with vocals) and "Star Spangled Banner" as jazz ballads.
"Contemplative, but with a certain intensity that kept my ears perked. Larry's touch and choice of harmonies reminds me of standing outside on a clear, cold night and looking up at the stars." John Ziegler, KUMD Radio Program and Music Director.
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Drummer Chaz Draper joined McDonough in Off
Beat in 2002, with “A Rose for Two” being their
first public duo performance, recorded live at the
new Weber Music Hall on the Duluth Campus of
the University of Minnesota and broadcast live
on KUMD Radio. It includes A Rose for Two
in 5/4, based on melodies written by children with disabilities using Fingersteps software developed by drummer Danny Moffatt. McDonough’s daughter Rosie wrote the A section melody, Moffatt’s children Patrick and Jennifer wrote the B section melody, and McDonough layered them over shifting minor harmonies and 5/4 meter.
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"All Blues" from "Tuscarora: Short Stories for
Jazz Piano" was reissued on the compilation
and sampler CD, which benefits KUMD FM
Radio 103.3 FM, Duluth.
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Larry McDonough and his first group, Off Beat,
performed arrangements, titled Off Beat: Jazz
Classics in New Meters. McDonough has taken
jazz classics and put them into different time
signatures, changing the rythmn and feel of the
tunes. Off Beat's maiden voyage was broadcast
live on Cooking at the Dakota on Jazz88,
KBEM 88.5 FM Radio on July 30, 2001.
Selections include Cantaloupe Island in 7/4
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St. Paul jazz pianist Larry McDonough released
his CD of solo piano jazz, titled "Small Steps," on
the Marx Music label. The original CD release
party filled Dakota at Bandana Square in St. Paul,
Minnesota with up to an hour wait to get in.
A second party, family show and jazz education
session in February at filled Dakota with adults and children.
In "Small Steps," McDonough performs unique arrangements of jazz classics (Miles Davis' "All Blues", Chick Corea's "Crystal Silence," and "Nature Boy", first performed by Nat King Cole and later George Benson), pop classics ("Linus and Lucy", Eric Clapton's "Layla", and The Beatles' "Good Day Sunshine"), as well as original pieces "Small Steps" and "Coreatown."
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Larry McDonough performing selections from
"Small Steps," and McDonough performing
some of the "Off Beat" arrangements in a duo
with Phil Holm on trumpet on NewsNight
Minnesota on Twin Cities Public Television.
"Some very cool music.... Off beat jazz
classics,' just 4/4 music isn't good enough for
[McDonough].... 5/4 and 7/4 ... have fun with it.... I love this 5/4 [Take the 5A Train']. Do some more!" Lou Harvin, NewsNight Minnesota, TPT Public Television Chs. 2 & 17, St. Paul.
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The title track of "Small Steps," written by
McDonough, was reissued on the
compilation and sampler CD, "Oasis Jazz