Lou DONALDSON – Blue Breakbeats 1970

Lou DONALDSON – Blue Breakbeats 1970
1998 Issue.


Lou Donaldson has long been an excellent bop altoist influenced by Charlie Parker, but with a more blues-based style of his own. His distinctive tone has been heard in a variety of small-group settings, and he has recorded dozens of worthy and spirited (if somewhat predictable) sets through the years.
Donaldson started playing clarinet when he was 15, soon switching to the alto. He attended college and performed in a Navy band while in the military. Donaldson first gained attention when he moved to New York and in 1952 started recording for Blue Note as a leader. At the age of 25, his style was fully formed, and although it would continue growing in depth through the years, Donaldson had already found his sound. In 1954, he participated in a notable gig with Art Blakey, Clifford Brown, Horace Silver and Tommy Potter that was extensively documented by Blue Note and that directly predated the Jazz Messengers. However, Donaldson was never a member of the Messengers, and although he recorded as a sideman in the 1950s and occasionally afterwards with Thelonious Monk, Milt Jackson and Jimmy Smith, among others, he has been a bandleader from the mid-1950s up until the present.

Donaldson’s early Blue Note recordings were pure bop. In 1958, he began often utilizing a conga player, and starting in 1961 his bands often had an organist rather than a pianist. Donaldson’s bluesy style was easily transferable to soul-jazz, and he sounded most original in that context. His association with Blue Note (1952-63) was succeeded by some excellent (if now-scarce) sets for Cadet and Argo (1963-66). The altoist returned to Blue Note in 1967 and soon became caught up in the increasingly commercial leanings of the label. For a time, he utilized an electronic Varitone sax, which completely watered down his sound. The success of “Alligator Boogaloo” in 1967 led to a series of less interesting funk recordings that were instantly dated and not worthy of his talent.

However, after a few years off records, Lou Donaldson’s artistic return in 1981 and subsequent soul-jazz and hard bop dates for Muse, Timeless and Milestone have found the altoist back in prime form, interacting with organists and pianists alike and showing that his style is quite timeless.
By Scott Yanow, All Music Guide.
Back in 1998, Blue Note came out with a series of little 35- to 45-minute “Breakbeats” samplers taken from the thick, rich catalogs of Bobbi Humphrey, Grant Green, Reuben Wilson, Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd, and Lou Donaldson. What you get on this particular volume are six very enjoyable examples of Lou Donaldson’s best jazz-funk grooves harvested from the golden formative years of this well-loved style (1963-1970). The collective personnel is pretty wicked, and includes Blue Mitchell, Melvin Sparks, Grant Green, Charles Earland, and Idris Muhammad. As usual, the background for the music is way bigger and runs much deeper than many folks realize. Anyone who has gone back and assessed Donaldson’s entire career knows that he was one of the few alto players who didn’t switch to tenor in the shadow of Charlie Parker during the 1950s. Donaldson’s chops were always as formidable as Bird’s or Earl Bostic’s, James Moody’s or Cannonball Adderley’s. His recorded legacy is a lot more diverse than you would imagine if all you went by were the funky tracks that have since been lucratively “legitimated” by the recording industry in response to the sampling habits of a whole generation of DJ mixologists. Not to complain — it’s very cool that Lou Donaldson’s funk-jazz is getting reissued and is being enjoyed by people young enough to be his great-grandchildren. It’s just that it would be awfully nice if more people were aware of the considerable stylistic range of his music. The root system of these “Breakbeats” exists in the amazing and to some extent overlooked records that Lou Donaldson made between 1952 and 1963. For maximum enjoyment and fulfillment, get some context for the funk and you’ll enjoy it like never before.
By arwulf arwulf. AMG.
Alto Sax- Lou Donaldson
Drums- Ben Dixon (tracks: 6) , Idris Muhammad (tracks: 1 to 5)
Guitar- George Benson (tracks: 5) , Grant Green (tracks: 6) , Jimmy Ponder (tracks: 2) , Melvin Sparks (tracks: 1, 3) , Ted Dunbar (tracks: 4)
Organ- Charles Earland (tracks: 1, 2) , John Patton (tracks: 6) , Leon Spencer, Jr. (tracks: 4) , Lonnie Smith (tracks: 3, 5)
Trumpet- Blue Mitchell (tracks: 2 to 4) , Ed Williams* (tracks: 1) , Melvin Lastie (tracks: 5)
01. Turtle Walk 7:54
02. Brother Soul 8:13
03. Minor Bash 6:08
04. Pot Belly 8:05
05. One Cylinder 6:45
06. Caracas 7:19

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2 Responses to “Lou DONALDSON – Blue Breakbeats 1970”

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