New Jazz Horizons: “The Long Wait” by Matthew McDonald Reviewed

New Jazz Horizons: “The Long Wait” by Matthew McDonald Reviewed


Matthew McDonald’s latest album, *The Long Wait*, released on 24 May 2024 by Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records, is a testament to his versatility and prowess as a trombonist and composer.

Known for his work with ensembles like The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and The Christian McBride Big Band, McDonald brings a rich tapestry of sounds and emotions to this new project.

Featuring an impressive line-up of musicians, the album reflects the vibrant and often chaotic life in New York City, as well as the introspective period during the 2020 isolation.

“The Long Wait” is a diverse and ambitious album that traverses various styles and moods, much like the city it seeks to portray.

The opening track, “Liebish,” is a tribute to saxophonist David Liebman, whose influence on McDonald is palpable. The piece is an intricate blend of melody and improvisation, showcasing McDonald’s command of the trombone.

The interplay between McDonald and the featured musicians, especially Alex Norris on trumpet, creates a dynamic and engaging soundscape.

Band Members by David Stoller

Band Members by David Stoller

Tracks like “Night Scenes” and “Afterwards” delve into more personal themes, reflecting McDonald’s journey through mental and physical challenges.

The emotive quality of these pieces is enhanced by Manuel Valera’s expressive piano and Rhodes playing, which adds depth to the already rich compositions.

Yasushi Nakamura’s bass and Mark Whitfield Jr.’s drums provide a solid and inventive rhythm section, grounding the album’s more exploratory moments.

The album’s title track, “The Long Wait,” serves as a central narrative, encapsulating the mix of anticipation and uncertainty experienced during the pandemic. This theme is echoed in compositions like “Dealin’,” “In the Heights,” and “A Wee Bit of Fun,” which paint a vivid picture of daily life in New York City. These tracks combine elements of jazz, Latin rhythms, and classical influences, demonstrating McDonald’s broad musical palette.

Matthew McDonald’s trombone playing is at the forefront throughout the album, serving as both a leading voice and a narrative thread. His ability to convey a wide range of emotions through his instrument is remarkable, from the joyous exuberance of “A Wee Bit of Fun” to the melancholic introspection of “Going Back Moving Forward.”

The contributions of the other musicians are equally noteworthy, each bringing their unique talents to the project. Notably, the string quartet featuring Meg Okura, Yu-Ping Tsai, Andy Lin, and Nan-Cheng Chen on “A Chance Encounter” and “Feng-I” adds a lush, orchestral texture to the album.

The production quality of *The Long Wait* is excellent, capturing the nuances of each performance with clarity and balance. The album was recorded with a keen ear for detail, allowing the intricate arrangements and individual solos to shine.

The use of both traditional jazz instrumentation and more classical elements, such as the string quartet, is seamlessly integrated, creating a cohesive sound that supports the album’s thematic ambitions.

*The Long Wait* is a compelling addition to Matthew McDonald’s discography, showcasing his talents as both a performer and a composer. The album’s ability to blend personal reflection with broader urban themes makes it a resonant and multifaceted work.

Each track offers something unique, whether it’s the virtuosic solos, the interplay between musicians, or the evocative compositions. For jazz enthusiasts and newcomers alike, *The Long Wait* provides a rich listening experience that rewards repeated plays.

Overall, Matthew McDonald has crafted an album that is both a celebration of jazz’s past and a look forward to its future.

*The Long Wait* is not just a musical journey but an emotional one, offering insights into the artist’s life and the world around him. As McDonald himself states, this project was a labour of love, and it shows in every note.

Now that the long wait is over, listeners can fully appreciate the depth and beauty of this remarkable album.

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