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Latin Jazz Network, The Woo Album Review - January 18, 2012
The whole concept of Peter MacDonough's album The Woo: A Latin Jazz Suite for Soprano Saxophone, from the cover art to the name of the songs is based on the movie The Wizard of Oz. Reinterpretations of movie songs is not something new in jazz, John Coltrane did it with My Favorite Things, a song from The Sound of Music. But what MacDonough did here is a Latin Jazz version of a complete movie soundtrack. And just as Coltrane did on My Favorite Things, MacDonough also plays the soprano sax.
MacDonough's creative and refreshing arrangements bring new life to the music of this classic movie. The sublime sounds of the soprano sax on "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" serves as an intro to the samba rhythms of "We're off to see the Wizard". The short tango "Miss Gulch" gives way to the dark, kind of melancholic jazz ballad, "Come out, come out wherever you are Part I". In "Come out, come out wherever you are Part II", the same music sounds happier with a smooth jazz arrangement. After the 6/8 African rhythms of "Lions and Tigers and Bears", the band goes once again into the contagious rhythms of Samba in "Optimistic Voices".
The samba-reggae "Merry old land of Oz" and the Cuban danzon version of "If I only had" takes the listener to the sounds of the Caribbean. Listening to the nice tumbao and Michael Spiro's conga solo at the end of the track, is hard to believe these guys (except for Jovino Santos Neto) are not from Latin America.
After the excellent vocals of Australian Adrian Payne over a clave rhythm on "March of the Winkies", finally the song most people recognize from the Wizard of Oz, "Somewhere over the Rainbow". With so many recordings of this classic it is hard to come up with an original and fresh arrangement. The odd time signatures on this version do the trick.
The album ends up with the gorgeous piano of Jovino Santos Neto in the light samba "If I were the king of the forest", the soothing soprano sax sound of "The Lullaby League", the danceable "Ding Dong" and a more intimate reprise of "Somewhere over the Rainbow".
Review written by: Wilbert Sostre. Click here for the review.
Peter MacDonough - The Woo Album Review
Jazz Times by Robert Sutton - December 2010
Peter MacDonough isn’t in Kansas anymore. The saxophonist is swept from his Australian residence and into the other Oz, the Land of Oz.
For the most part when artists, especially jazz musicians, decide to produce an album of covers, there’s always an unfortunate lack of imagination, mainly out of fear of desecrating the originals. MacDonough refuses to fall into the same bear trap. MacDonough’s vision of updating “The Wizard of Oz”’s ’39 vintage jukebox into Latin-fueled grooves is akin to when Dorothy Gale’s world switches from black and white to color after her house crash lands onto Oz.
On the surface, “The WOO: A Latin Suite for Soprano Saxophone” may seem like a novelty item, yet another gimmick designed to capitalize on “The Wizard of Oz”’s legacy. But MacDonough hushes such fears from the beginning with “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.” MacDonough’s sax glides across Jovino Santos Neto’s relaxed piano melody with the brightly colored majesty of a kingfisher in flight. “We’re Off to See the Wizard” becomes a foot-stomping jam with Neto’s sprightly piano and MacDonough’s sax carrying off the famous hook. The Latin beat frenzy of “Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are (Part II)” is propelled by Michael Spiro’s tumbling percussion as MacDonough’s saxophone slinks its way into its infectious rhythm. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” eschews schmaltz and is reinvigorated with thumping drums and dreamy saxophone.
Among the most impressive qualities of the CD is that it is made to be experienced from beginning to end. The songs tell the story of the film through its various layers of rhythm and melody, mood and tempo. On “If I Only Had a Brain,” MacDonough’s playful sax captures the Scarecrow’s childlike innocence.
Peter MacDonough Interview with KGPR Great Falls, Montana Public Radio
Music Industry News Network, The Woo Album Review - February 16, 2011
'The Wizard Of Oz' Lives Again In New CD From Saxophonist Peter MacDonough. Click here for the review.
All About Jazz, The Woo Album Review - February 2011
Click here for review.
Dick Crockett, "The Voice" 88.7FM - Sacramento, CA
"What a unique conception, one of my favorites of American missive mythology, “The Wizard Of Oz,” in this case set to a Latin theme to “The Wiz” is even more wizzy with Peter Macdonough's soprano saxophone, easy delightful portrait-magic to a positive today, now of dancing the daylight away. It's all true West Coast style."
Larissa C Hale, Jazz Host WJSU - Jackson, MS
"Wow, if that's your first attempt, I can only imagine how the next album will be. I thought you were very innovative in creating a latin jazz rendition of the Wizard of Oz. I'm a huge fan of both latin jazz and the Wizard of Oz; so, the combination of the two for me was like a great meal paired perfectly with a great wine."
Deborah Evans, Jazz Host 2MBS 102.5 & Thursday Breakfast on The North Shores 99.3FM99
"I love The Woo (play it at home all the time) and am playing it every week on both of my stations. The listener response has been fantastic, people ring in and ask about the album every time I play a track. This is a very special album."
O’s Place Jazz Magazine by D. Oscar Groomes - December 2010
Peter MacDonough - The Woo 4/4
O’s Notes: MacDonough plays sax in the style of drums as inspired by percussionist Michael Spiro. That may be an unusual concept but it sounds great especially on “Miss Gulch”, one of fifteen strong contemporary jazz and Latin-based arrangements of music from The Wizard of Oz. Again a hokey concept but it works very well. The band includes Jovino Santos Neto (p) Paul van Wageningen (d) and Mark Levine (p). Peter’s talent, that of his accompaniment and the daring concept are executed to perfection. Our favorite tracks are “Optimistic Voices”, “The Lullaby League” and “If I Were The King of the Forest”.