14

The Best of Lou Donaldson, Volume 1 – 1957-1967

Marc Davis By

Sign in to view read count
For anyone new to Lou Donaldson, it’s a good place to start, and has some of his best numbers.
I'm not a huge fan of Best Of albums. Artists make albums of music—some with themes, some without—and you go with it. One album generally equals one mood, so why mix them up?

But then...

Lou Donaldson is an alto saxophonist who spent virtually his entire career at one label: Blue Note. Bigger names have recorded on Blue Note—Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins—but none so extensively, from the 1950s to '70s.

Trouble is, there are several flavors of Lou Donaldson. That's a good thing. Who wants to hear the same artist play the same songs over and over? But it does make it difficult to choose the Lou you like. And if you're coming at Donaldson cold, as I did many years ago, you wonder: Where to start?

Start here. This best-of album covers Donaldson's best decade, before he became synonymous with soul-funk-R&B jazz albums that were, too often, just mediocre.

There are three moods of mid-50s-to-mid-60s Lou Donaldson, and this CD covers each briefly. It starts with a Donaldson original, "Grits and Gravy," a slow, draggy blues. The third cut, another Donaldson original, "Blues Walk," covers the same territory, with perhaps a more sensual feel. The mood is laid-back and warm.

Then there's straight-ahead bebop/hard bop Lou Donaldson, obviously influenced by Charlie Parker. The second cut on this CD, "Groovin' High," is a Parker number that Donaldson handles adeptly. He won't make you forget Bird, but he's in the same ballpark. Very good, if not memorable. "Light Foot," another Donaldson original, treads the same ground.

Then there's my favorite, the organ-combo Donaldson. It's an acquired taste, but there's something about a Hammond B3 organ with a tasteful blues guitar and soulful sax that touches my buttons. A bit groovy and dated, true, but so much fun. "Here 'Tis," from the album of the same name, starts with a languid bluesy groove. "Sow Belly Blues" is in a more funky toe-tapping cut. And "Alligator Boogaloo" is the start of Donaldson's transition to full-time funky man, a path he continued down for the rest of his career.

Like all Best Of albums, this is an introduction, and a short one at only nine tracks. For anyone new to Lou Donaldson, it's a good place to start, and has some of his best numbers. Then, pick the Lou you like and find a real album, the way Donaldson wanted you to hear it.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Availability: Many copies on Amazon, new and used

Cost: Around $4 to $7, used

Shop

More Articles

Read Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973 My Blue Note Obsession Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973
by Marc Davis
Published: April 18, 2017
Read Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958 My Blue Note Obsession Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958
by Marc Davis
Published: April 4, 2017
Read Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959 My Blue Note Obsession Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959
by Marc Davis
Published: March 21, 2017
Read Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957 My Blue Note Obsession Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957
by Marc Davis
Published: March 3, 2017
Read The Best of Lou Donaldson, Volume 1 – 1957-1967 My Blue Note Obsession The Best of Lou Donaldson, Volume 1 – 1957-1967
by Marc Davis
Published: February 13, 2017
Read Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder – 1964 My Blue Note Obsession Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder – 1964
by Marc Davis
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Leo Parker: Rollin' With Leo – 1961" My Blue Note Obsession Leo Parker: Rollin' With Leo – 1961
by Marc Davis
Published: November 21, 2016
Read "Sabu Martinez: Palo Congo – 1957" My Blue Note Obsession Sabu Martinez: Palo Congo – 1957
by Marc Davis
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Grant Green: The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark – 1961-62" My Blue Note Obsession Grant Green: The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark –...
by Marc Davis
Published: September 27, 2016
Read "Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958" My Blue Note Obsession Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958
by Marc Davis
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Paul Chambers: Bass on Top – 1957" My Blue Note Obsession Paul Chambers: Bass on Top – 1957
by Marc Davis
Published: May 18, 2016
Read "Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder – 1964" My Blue Note Obsession Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder – 1964
by Marc Davis
Published: January 23, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!