The Earl MacDonald 6 has been described as “ingratiating and delightful, if not startlingly original.” The handpicked, stellar roster of musicians share a like-minded, post-bop group aesthetic. Although working a well-worn field, MacDonald never compromised in seeking to present original music with his personal stamp on it. Sure, the Jazztet and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers were influences, but recreating the sound of a past era was never his intention. This is no derivative jazz sextet. Each player has a distinctive, contemporary improvisational voice and a wealth of international playing experience.
In January 2003, MacDonald was awarded a Connecticut Commission on the Arts grant to write and record new works with this ensemble. The Earl MacDonald 6 was named “Best Jazz Group” in the Hartford Advocate’s Readers’ Poll, following the release of their debut CD “Echoes In The Night.”
Al Merritt summed up the album in his review for jazznow.com:
The inspired solo work flows from the clever writing contained in Earl MacDonald’s charts, and the smooth overall aspect of the music is both swinging and tuneful. Nice sounds with excellent solos and a hip rhythm section.
Joe Magnarelli – trumpet
Dick Oatts – alto sax
Steve Davis – trombone
Earl MacDonald – piano
Dave Santoro – bass
Tom Melito – drums
The sound of this sextet is unique and if they strived for originality, they achieved it with total success. 4 Stars.
~ John Gilbert, ejazznews.com, March 2005