Lou Donaldson's Say It Loud! is finally on CD. Recorded for Blue Note in '69, this is one of several late-'60s albums by the legendary alto saxophonist that tend to get little respect. That's too bad, really. Apart from sporting a very capable band in trumpeter Blue Mitchell, guitarist Jimmy Ponder, organist Charles Earland and drummer Leo Morris, the five selections on Say It Loud! are undeniably fun.
True, there aren't great answers on God or the circle of life here, but the album never attempts such feats. What is offered and delivered successfully are seamless, easy grooves that highlight Donaldson's exceptional taste on alto. The album's title track comes, of course, from James Brown's classic anthem. Here, it is done with less swagger and more cool. The band's in no hurry and the jam like setting finds everyone in fine form.
Another classic, Gershwin's "Summertime," does not come off as well, as it deviates from excitement, hitting some bland spots along the way. The album improves on perhaps its strongest piece, Duke Ellington's "Caravan." A funkier ride than most versions, this "Caravan" soars with greater melodic attitude, thanks to Donaldson and the perpetually underrated Mitchell. Donaldson's "Snake Bone" and "Brother Soul" (cowritten with Leon Spencer) seem related, cousin compositions that are longer than the album's other offerings and best capture the funky, relaxed persuasions that seem so dear and natural to Donaldson and his mates.
Along with 1967's Mr. Shing-A-Ling, Say It Loud often gets dismissed as sub-par output by Lou Donaldson. While it doesn't have the same stature as Midnight Creeper, it is nonetheless a fantastic, fun album, worthy of greater exposure.
Personnel: Lou Donaldson: alto sax; Blue Mitchell: trumpet; Jimmy Ponder: guitar; Charles Earland:
organ; Leo Morris: drums.