Lou Donaldson: Lou Takes Off (2009)
A bop classic, Charlie Parker's own "Dewey Square," includes a showcasing solo from the too-soon-gone Sonny Clark, who was already displaying his rhythmically sophisticated and seriously playful piano. Easing in and out smoothly on the tune is Curtis Fuller, who was already demonstrating the JJ Johnson-influenced technique that, as composer and trombonist, has led to his playing with a galaxy ranging from Miles Davis and John Coltrane to Count Basie and many more. On another Donaldson piece, "Strollin' In," Fuller's sound is so varied and sweet it's as if he's just invented a new instrument. And Clark's piano is so mesmerizing one can only regret, again, that his life was so short.
If Lou Takes Off is not an essential set, it is a fascinating one, if only historically. It's a welcome opportunity to savor a steaming, vivid and fascinating session when a band of young lions were clearly on the verge of greatness.
Track Listing: Sputnik; Dewey Square; Strollin' In; Groovin' High.
Personnel: Lou Donaldson: alto saxophone; Donald Byrd: trumpet; Curtis Fuller: trombone; Sonny Clark: piano; Jamil Nasser: bass; Art Taylor: drums.
Record Label: Blue Note Records