Peter MacDonough – The Woo (Self produced – 2010)


Review written by: Wilbert Sostre

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”.

Track Listing:

1. Follow the yellow brick road
2. We’re off to see the wizard
3. Miss Gulch
4. Come out come wherever you are Part I
5. Come out come wherever you are Part II
6. Lions and tigers and bears
7. Optimistic voices
8. Merry old land of Oz
9. If I only had
10. March of the Winkies
11. Somewhere over the rainbow
12. If I were the king of the forrest
13. The lullaby league
14. Ding dong
15. Somewher over the rainbow (reprise)


Peter MacDonough – soprano saxophone
Jovino Santos Neto – piano
Mark Levine – piano
Michael Spiro – percussion
David Belove – bass
Paul Van Wageningen – drums

Review written by: Wilbert Sostre

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