“A solid recording; an intriguing post-bop romp into standards and other tunes.”
The Run Off Groove, http://therunoffgroove.blogspot.com/
“ Previous to hearing this, I was unfamiliar with the music of pianist Larry McDonough, but his album Simple Gifts (self-released) made me wish I had heard of him before, and now I want to catch up.
The Larry McDonough Quartet play the kind of jazz that will be a delight for fans of Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock, and Phil Woods in terms of the musicians involved (McDonough on piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, and voice, plus Chas Draper on drums, Crag Materrese on bass and electric bass, and Richard Terrill on tenor and soprano saxes). They play in a very open fashion where all you want to do is kick back, relax, and let the music take you away to a place untraveled. “Tuscarora”, a McDonough original, could easily find its way among the ECM discography, as Terrill’s saxophone solo graces the soundscape as McDonough fills in the colors and eventually helps develop the picture. Their cover of Steely Dan’s “Aja”, done in a 5/4 time signature, will definitely keep you attentive throughout its close-to-eight-minute duration, and it’s sure to be a Steely Dan cover worth telling everyone about. The 5/4 time signature returns at the end when they go into “My Favorite Things”, and before the familiar melody is revived, it sounds a bit like the start of an Indian raga with the drones coming from Materrese’s bass. Most listeners will probably familiar with the song in 3/4, so to hear it in 5/4 is a challenge but one that you’ll want to take.
Simple Gifts may be a subtle way to describe the talents of McDonough and friends, but their arrangements are anything but simple or subtle. It’s not too heady or avant-garde either, but for those who like their jazz with an unpredictable source of energy, McDonough is someone who is in full control of that power distribution, and he does so in a fashion that will make everyone beg for more.”
Scott Yanow - LA Jazz Scene
“Larry McDonough is an inventive pianist and an occasional singer based in Minnesota. On Simple Gifts he displays the desire and the talent to recast familiar songs in odd time signatures and make them work.
Imagine hearing “Red River Valley” in 7/4 time, Steely Dan’s “Aja” in 5/4 and “My Favorite Things” (inspired by John Coltrane’s famous versions) in 5/4. But there are other surprises to be heard throughout this quartet disc. “Ode To Joy” sounds like a Bill Evans arrangement, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” is sung with the rarely- heard verse which gives the tunes’ words a completely different and a much more downbeat meaning, and a new Billie Holiday tribute piece (“Lady Day”) is introduced. In addition, McDonough occasionally tosses in the most unlikely song quotes, but it is done tastefully and adds to the date’s good feelings.
Saxophonist Richard Terrill (mostly heard on tenor but also very good on soprano), bassist Craig Matarrese and drummer Chad Draper make for a tight but adventurous quartet with McDonough. The highly enjoyable is music is recommended and available from www.larrymcdonoughjazz.homestead.com .”
Dick Metcalf - Zzaj Productions Improvijazzation Nation
“Larry McDonough Quartet - SIMPLE GIFTS: You'll not likely find a better gift than Larry's simple, yet enchanting, keyboard style... as those who listen a lot to piano/Rhodes artists know, keyboardists often get so ‘far down’ into their playing that their presentations/performances come across as too self-engaged, but McDonough makes it clear from the opening line that he's much more interested in passing on his sense of joy than any sense of self-importance! The players with him (Richard Terrill on tenor/soprano sax, Craig Matarrese's bass & electric bass, as well as super-sensitive drums by Chaz Draper) add to that sense of excitement and inspiration... an excellent quartet with superb talents and a real sensitivity for the emotions that drive listeners. I found the title track (click on the link in the header to hear it) to be the most passionate & full of musical mystery, but ‘Dame la Mano/Red River Valley’ came in a close second... full-bodied jazz that will quench your thirst for jazz with high spirit! Larry's Rhodes on ‘Aja’ took me back years to a certain Joe Zawinul & that whole Weather Report groove... this is one of the best keyboard-oriented CD's I've heard this year, & in addition to a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, it also gets the ‘PICK’ of this issue for ‘most sophisticated keyboard jazz’! Get more information at http://larrymcdonoughjazz.homestead.com .”
Mark Saleski www.jazz.com
Larry McDonough: Aja on Simple Gifts (LM Jazz); “Rating: 91/100 (Outstanding. A work of superior merit)
What's that cliché? Something about not discussing religion and politics in a barroom? If music and/or rock nerds are involved in the conversation, I would suggest avoiding the topic of Steely Dan as well. Given a cursory listen, you wouldn't think that the music of Fagen & Becker would be so polarizing, but I'm telling you, the spittle will fly! Are they rock? Jazz? Pseudo-reggae? Too slick? Well, this isn't a barroom, it's the Internet. Sure, it can be something of an electronic barroom, but I'll take that chance. Obviously this version of "Aja" shows the jazzier side of Steely Dan. The sax lines of Richard Terrill and leader Larry McDonough's fine Fender Rhodes lines bring into stark relief the song's many contours. McDonough keeps with the spirit of the original as well, by accentuating the energy gained by the many start-&-stop passages that amp things up as the composition winds its way toward a conclusion. Jazz or rock? Sorry, but that question misses the point. Have another beer. Larry McDonough (piano, Fender Rhodes), Richard Terrill (tenor, soprano saxes), Craig Matarrese (bass, electric bass), Chaz Draper (drums); Composed by Donald Fagen & Walter Becker; Recorded: July 2004."
Peter Kuller, Radio Adelaide - Australia firstname.lastname@example.org
“This was not a simple gift, it was a substantial gift! Larry McDonough is giving Beethoven, Gershwin, an Rogers & Hammerstein a whole new life. I just love it and will start playing from it in November. This music is indeed a gift, thank you very much!”
Joost Van Steen - Jazz & Blues Tour Radio - The Netherlands http://www.jazzbluestour.nl/
“What a great CD. Fantastic stuff! It will be a great pleasure will give this CD airplay.”
Mark Robinson Auckland New Zealand
“It is a beautiful release and I will soon be play listing it on my jazz shows.”
Chris Spector - Midwest Record - www.midwestrecord.com
“Solid jazz piano man that serves it up in fine form. (LM Jazz)”