MANKATO — The Larry McDonough Quartet takes holiday standards into unfamiliar and sometimes unpredictable territory on its latest release, "Angels, Kings, My Favorite Things."
As the lawyer and acclaimed jazz pianist McDonough says in the CD's liner notes, "I never intended to record a holiday CD."
But he did — and it will be released during a celebration party at 8 p.m. today at the Wine Cafe.
"For more than 10 years," McDonough continues in the liner notes, "(the quartet) has focused on original material and reharmonized covers in complex meters in the style of Herbie, Miles, Coltrane, Brubeck and Bill Evans. I decided to reimagine holiday pieces in this paradigm."
In the opening track, "My Favorite Things," McDonough threads the "Sound of Music" standard through 5/4 time and punctuates with a driving rhythmic pattern and a tritone bass line. On "Jingle Bells," his solo performance is succinct and elegant.
The darker shades of Richard Terrill's saxophone play are showcased in renditions of "Silent Night" and "Alone in the World" while a drummer-less interpretation of "Little Drummer Boy" captures a sound more hopeful.
Elsewhere, the quartet's take on "Scarborough Fair" drives into decidedly avante-garde territory while "Ode to Joy" is crafted in the vein of a Bill Evans waltz.
"Spending the holidays with Larry McDonough is the like the best of holiday reunions — getting reacquainted with relatives who seem so different from how we remember them, and so much more interesting," wrote Andrea Canter of Jazz Ink in her review.
The quartet is comprised of McDonough as well as Minnesota State University instructors Terrill, Chaz Draper (drums) and Craig Matarrese (bass).
If You Go What Larry McDonough Quartet release party for "Angels, Kings, My Favorite Things" When 8 p.m. today Where Wine Cafe, 301 N. Riverfront Drive