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Lou Donaldson: Good Gracious!

Jim Santella By

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The organ combo has a distinct sound, one like no other. Lou Donaldson discovered Grant Green and Big John Patton, recommended them to Blue Note (in effect, initiating their recording careers), and produced some mighty fine recordings in their company. Both Donaldson and guitarist Green have listed Charlie Parker as a prime influence, and it is immediately apparent in the up-tempo blues-based tunes.

Patton's foot pedals substitute, naturally, for the bass, and drummer Ben Dixon supplies an adequate beat through all six tracks. The session combines Donaldson's brand of bop with blues, balladry, and gospel. The title track is a fast blues with call & response, emotion-building repetition, and exciting solo work from saxophone, organ, and guitar. "Bad John" and Don Redman's "Cherry," are up-tempo blues-based affairs with heightened emotional appeal as well; Donaldson quotes "Frankie And Johnny" during his solo outing in "Bad John."

A gospel tune in 3/4 time, "The Holy Ghost" combines the organ, with its powerful church-like full harmony, and Donaldson's soothing, lyrical hymn-like melody to create a serene yet spicy stroll. Sustained organ chords and Dixon's brushes support the leader's sensitive ballad delivery on "Don't Worry `Bout Me." Donaldson wrote the bossa "Caracas" before the bossa nova craze. His dry tone, the repetitious drum rhythm, and the floating melody create a sound quite apart from the fire of the saxophonist's jump blues numbers. The three solo voices of saxophone, organ and guitar combine to offer a variety of gospel, ballad, bossa nova, and trademark blues. Recommended.

Title: Good Gracious! | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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