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Lou Donaldson: The Artist Selects

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Alto sax master Lou Donaldson's entry to the Blue Note Artist Selects series includes a blend of originals and standards, with Hall of Fame lineups from various eras. Listening to this music, one can map the evolution of jazz in the context of his development as a musician.

Donaldson's first words on the liner notes are "I was influenced by Charlie Parker, and on "Cheek to Cheek he riffs with the tone, melodic dexterity and humor that were Bird's trademarks. The Donaldson originals "Cookin' and "Lou's Blues are bebop showcases with luminaries like Clifford Brown, Percy Heath, Horace Silver, Philly Joe Jones and Art Blakey raising their voices. The beautiful ballad "Dorothy (on which the recently departed Ray Barretto made his recording debut) and the Afro-Cuban piece "Herman's Mambo marked the beginning of Donaldson's emergence from Charlie Parker's long shadow. By the time he wrote and recorded the cool classic "The Blues Walk, he had transformed what he learned from Bird into his own unique style.

A few tunes represent Donaldson's role in the evolution of soul jazz. "Alligator Boogaloo has young guns George Benson and Idris Muhammad on guitar and drums, and a pre-doctoral Lonnie Smith on the organ. Trumpeter Blue Mitchell blows on the funky "Peepin', and Grant Green plays electric and acoustic guitars on the Latin/soul hybrid "Caracas. The nonet Donaldson assembled for the lush "What Will I Tell My Heart includes Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and Ron Carter. A laconic but effective version of "Caravan ends the disc, Donaldson sharing the wealth with Mitchell, organist Charles Earland and guitarist Jimmy Ponder.

Lou Donaldson is no Forrest Gump who happened to be present at the point of creation—instead, as this disc shows, he's a pillar of the jazz pantheon who advanced the music. Thankfully, he's still a mainstay on the scene and his playing, composing and generosity of spirit continue to enrich us all.

Track Listing: Cheek To Cheek; Cookin

Personnel: Lou Donaldson: alto saxophone; Pepper Adams: baritone saxophone (10); Gene Ramey (1), Percy Heath (2), Curly Russell (3), Peck Morrison (4-7), Ron Carter (10): bass; Ray Barretto: congas (4-7); Art Taylor: drums (1), Philly Joe Jones (2), Art Blakey (3), Dave Bailey (4-7), Ben Dixon (8,9), Al Harewood (10); Idris Muhammad (11-13): drums; Grant Green (8,9), George Benson (11), Jimmy Ponder (12,13): guitar; John Patton (8,9), Dr. Lonnie Smith (11,12), Charles Earland (13): organ; Horace Silver (1,3), Elmo Hope (2), Herman Foster (4-7), McCoy Tyner (10): piano; Wayne Shorter: tenor saxophone (10); Garnett Brown: trombone (10); Clifford Brown (2,3), Tommy Turrentine (8,9), Freddie Hubbard (10), Melvin Lastie (11), Blue Mitchell (12,13): trumpet.

Title: The Artist Selects | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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