289

Lou Donaldson: The Natural Soul

Clifford Allen By

Sign in to view read count
Lou Donaldson: The Natural Soul Throughout the ‘60s, Blue Note pretty much held a monopoly on both of hard bop's children: modal jazz (of the Jackie McLean variety) and soul jazz (John Patton, Lou Donaldson and company). Of course, the soul jazz community does not limit itself to the simple pleasures of R&B party records, the reason why clean vinyl copies of Harold Vick and Fred Jackson records aren't a dime a dozen. There is a difference between, say, the approaches of Patton and Don Wilkerson on one hand, and Jimmy Smith and Lou Donaldson on the other. The former offer a straighter, greasier format and the latter a funkiness still firmly rooted in Bud Powell and Charlie Parker. At Rudy Van Gelder's studio in 1962, the two strains of soul jazz met and The Natural Soul is the result.

On this session, the second date Lou Donaldson made with an organ combo, he is joined by the cream of the crop: Patton, guitarist Grant Green, drummer Ben Dixon, and hard bop trumpeter Tommy Turrentine (yes, that Turrentine). Green, Patton, and Dixon were, like the Jimmy Smith Trio, one of the most prevalent organ trios of the period, offering a simpler, grittier R&B over Smith's far-flung virtuosity.

This is not a pejorative account of the group's ability; Green is the Mal Waldron of guitar, emphatically repeating phrases with an almost minimalist intensity, and Patton's soloing is certainly not fettered by his idiom. Donaldson comes out of the post-Bird bag, with a strong affinity for the biting tone of a young Jackie McLean and a humorous lyricism that has echoes of Sonny Rollins.

Turrentine might be the least familiar player here, a brassy post-Brownie player who worked regularly with his brother in the early '60s, as well as with pianist Horace Parlan and, oddly, Archie Shepp. In addition to three standards, the group hits a comfortingly steaming version of Patton's hit "Funky Mama," two Donaldson originals, and the obscure Latin jazz pianist Johnny Acea's "Nice and Greasy." Though the band's funkier tunes are, obviously, what most people come for, one is left with a clearer grasp of the jazz chops of all involved: a brief but weird and engaging statement by Patton on "Love Walked In," for example. The more time the group has to stretch out, the more interesting the solos become - "Funky Mama" and "Sow Belly Blues" each clock in at around ten minutes and, not coincidentally, Patton and Green rip, especially on the latter.

If you're looking for two sides of yeh-yeh, The Natural Soul isn't quite it. But if you're looking for a rollicking jazz record with serious blowing that can double as music for the next cocktail-party bacchanal, then it certainly fits the bill. For prospective listeners less familiar with organ combos and more so with bop, this set offers a happy medium between the two - equal parts Ray Charles and Charlie Chan.


Track Listing: 1. Funky Mama 2. Spaceman Twist (Donaldson) 3. Love Walked In (Gershwin/Gershwin) 4. Sow Belly Blues (Donaldson) 5. That's All 6. Nice 'N Greasy

Personnel: Grant Green - Guitar; Tommy Turrentine - Trumpet; Ben Dixon - Drums; Lou Donaldson - Alto Sax; Big John Patton - Organ.

Title: The Natural Soul | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read The Romeo and Juliet Project CD/LP/Track Review The Romeo and Juliet Project
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Crystal Machine CD/LP/Track Review Crystal Machine
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Luisa" CD/LP/Track Review Luisa
by Matt Marshall
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Vyamanikal" CD/LP/Track Review Vyamanikal
by Duncan Heining
Published: July 17, 2016
Read "Slag" CD/LP/Track Review Slag
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 29, 2017
Read "Open Window / Flying Colors" CD/LP/Track Review Open Window / Flying Colors
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 22, 2016
Read "New Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review New Helsinki
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 8, 2017
Read "Rags And Roots" CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.