(Sydney, Australia)It would seem fitting that a tribute album to The Wizard of Oz
would be by a man from Oz. But don't peg The Woo: A Latin Jazz Suite for Soprano Saxophone
as some novelty item. Saxophonist Peter MacDonough has reinterpreted songs from the 1939 film in an Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian context. The Wizard of Oz
is no stranger to pop-culture makeovers; in fact, about 20 years ago an urban legend circulated that Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon
LP could be played alongside the movie and provide an eerily accurate scene-by-scene commentary. But MacDonough takes homage to another level, approaching each vintage piece as a structure to build new ideas on.
MacDonough has been playing music since the age of nine, which was when he was also named Musician of the Year." By 13, MacDonough was selected to the All-State band on clarinet and bass clarinet; two years later, he joined the Richmond Youth Symphony under maestro Fritz Mareffi on clarinet, bass clarinet, and bassoon. He earned a full music scholarship at Valley Forge Military Academy at the age of 16. In 1991, MacDonough released his debut album, Café Bozart," a tribute to one of his idols, Jay Beckenstein
, saxophonist for Spyro Gyra
.The Woo: A Latin Jazz Suite for Soprano Saxophone
is MacDonough's most ambitious effort to date. None of the old Wizard of Oz
tunes are disassembled beyond recognition; rather, they are spiced up. Optimistic Voices" is stoked by a shuffling beat as MacDonough's big, bold sax is as bright and eye-popping as a rainbow's spectrum of colors. MacDonough's soothing saxophones on Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are (Part I)" illustrates the awe-inspiring beauty of the Emerald City. Each track is given the same amount of attention and affection. What may have been originally intended as a loving tribute can stand proudly by itself.