Lou Donaldson Here ‘Tis (1961) Blue Note

Last Updated: November 29, 2018 ( new photos)
84066-Loudonaldson-Here'tis-cover-1920px-LJCTrack Selection: Walk Wid Me (Donaldson)


Lou Donaldson (as) “Baby Face” Willette (org) Grant Green (g) Dave Bailey (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, January 23, 1961

A counterweight to all the brain-food of late, time for a little soul-jazz, with Lou Donaldson; kick off the shoes and get into the groove.

Recording for Blue Note first in 1952, Donaldson’s output was nothing if not prolific – well over twenty titles as leader if you include the Liberty years and countless other as sidesman. At the age of 88 he is still swinging

His distinctive alto always maintains a strong bluesy and R &B sound. His phrasing, to my mind, has the manner of a blues guitarist, reaching in the same climactic fashion for those  top notes in the upper register, the same wail as a sustained string vibrato, but with the more rapid fire and agility of movement offered by the alto sax. With a lesser player it could end up sounding like 1980 all over again, cue David Sanborn, but Donaldson is a Bop-Master, he played with Monk, Blakey, Dorham, and countless others. His lines are a bluesy flavour of Bop, always grounded in that tradition.

His is not especially cerebral music, rather, somewhere lower down. An unrepentant crowd-pleaser, in a recent interview Donaldson set out his stall: “Today’s jazz is too intellectual. It’s not compatible with the general public because the musicians study too much. They go to school and they study and they know too much about the music. Back in our days, we played whatever the people liked. That’s what we played.”


Here ‘Tis is one of Lou Donaldson best records up there with Blues Walk,  an exceptionally funky soul-jazz session which swings hard, with his supporting trio of Green, Willette, and Bailey, who keep the groove gritty and flexible, always flowing. Green and Willette have their time in the spotlight: Green’s single-note leads are clean and inventive; Willette is rhythmic and forceful, but soulful and mellow where the tempo requires, and miraculously he manages not to fall into the Jimmmy Smith School of “Death by Hammond B3″.

Whatever happened to “Babyface” Willette? After just a few recordings for Argo and Blue Note, he disappeared into obscurity and, reportedly, died in 1971 at the age of 38.

Vinyl: BST 84066 – stereo original released 1961, NY labels, 170 gm vinyl.

The only Blue Note I have with just one ear, a real Van Gogh. The run-out Side 1 is so narrow I suspect they left out the ear to avoid stamping it in the grooves. It is found on side 2, along with the VAN GELDER  and STEREO stamp.


Side 2 Runout – detail – a beautifully formed Plastylite ear, to make up for the missing one. How do you explain to anyone not a medical professional that you find the mere sight of the ear, shall we say, uplifting? It is because you know your ears are going to be in for a treat.Donaldson-Here-tis-runout

Liner Notes


Collectors Corner

Source: Ebay  Location: UK

Sellers Description:


Inexpensive result at auction, Donaldson is too often lumped in the not very collectible soul-jazz box alongside others whose music has not aged well – Stanley Turpentine and Jimmy Spliff. I rate him higher than that but perhaps I am in a minority. Betraying a little personal history, as a former blues guitarist, I still love that idiom, and Donaldson’s earlier playing 1950s and the early Sixties, hits the spot for me, if not his later and in my view lesser works:


Nice covers though, it needs to be said, very mid to late Sixties. I own a copy of number 4 above, Midnight Creeper sans couverture – obviously the person who stole its cover from the record shop thought so too.

UPDATE: Popsike auction history for Lou Donaldson Here ‘Tis


Very wide spread of values for our Lou,  some copies sold at ten times the price of others. Surprises me, and may be more of a bargain than I figured.

24 thoughts on “Lou Donaldson Here ‘Tis (1961) Blue Note

      • I took another look this evening. Deadwax was not narrow. I did however notice what looks like it could be the very top of the “ear” – as if it was just not fully pressed in. Perhaps that could be the reason the ear is on your Here Tis. Either way, it’s an amazing record. Love your site by the way.

  1. Wow! I found your site by accident last night and lost the whole evening to it. I used to collect original Blue Notes and a couple of other labels back in the early 1990s before my wife persuaded me to take up the even more expensive hobby of raising two daughters. Your site brought back many memories of times spent thumbing through the racks at Mole Jazz and Ray’s (when the shop was still on Shaftesbury Avenue). So thank you for that nostalgia trip.

    I decided to comment on this particular posting because the comments thread mentions several recordings that I know. First, then, my pressing of Here Tis is one of the Toshiba ones. Back in the early 90s, there was no eBay and practically no info for collectors on the Internet. So these Japanese re-issues were a godsend and the only way of hearing and owning many classic Blue Notes at that time.

    So to the main reason for posting here: Joe L mentions a pair of Argo recordings: Babyface Wilette’s Mo’ Rock (Argo LP 739) and Sam Lazar’s Soul Merchant (Argo LP 714). My collecting notes show a bizarre coincidence because I bought both these (plus another Argo: Bucky Clarke’s The Buck Clarke Sound (Argo LP 4021) on the same day, 14 Dec 1992 at Mole Jazz on Pentonville Road. The Sam Lazar and Babyface Willette pressings have several unusual points and I’d be interested to know if any of your regular readers can add more information for me. On both, the labels are sandy coloured and bear the printed text “NOT FOR SALE” and “REVUE COPY”, the latter below catalogue numbers that are prefixed with the letters “DJ” – so DJLP-739 and DJLP-714. Lastly, the deadwax area has some markings that look quite a lot like Plastylite ears but I’ve no idea if they really are or if PlastyLite ever did work for Argo.

    Anyway, keep up the great work. It’s inspiring me to consider making a photographic record of my collection too.

    • Hi Martin, everyone’s welcome at this party (even those arriving late, without the requisite cheap bottle of wine!) Glad you like it, stick around. I’m an ex-Mole Jazz shopper myself, and Rays when Shaftesbury Avenue, but at that time a lost soul looking for fusion jazz. Embarrassing when I think back at what I probably passed over. Those in the “Rare as Hen’s Teeth” are rarer still now.

      I have a post coming up with an Argo promo DJLP, so we’ll take a look close up.

      • I look forward to seeing that post. Reading back through my comment, I realise that I made an error (that’s what you get for typing early on a Sunday morning). It’s the Buck Clark and Sam Lazar discs that are DJLPs, not the Babyface Wilette one.

        Still, if you’re interested, I could send you a couple of photos to include in your planned post.

        • Looking forward to digging into Argo. As LJC knows from my frequent comments, I’m an Argo fanatic. The Argo markings are seemingly random. I’ve noted many variations. In another post here, Bob D had some interesting comments about pressing plant theories; I’m sure he’ll chime in if appropriate when LJC posts about Argo. As to your question, it appears that Argo just randomly added the DJLP prefix to promo pressings from time-to-time: http://www.bsnpubs.com/chess/argo600.html

  2. Dottorjazz writes: I’m sorry to have been out of town the last couple of weeks.
    gonna read everything I couldn’t: I wanna confirm my love, interest and pleasure in what Andrew and all readers write here.
    thanks to you all.

  3. This is some of my favorite stuff. I’ve been outbid by a large margin on several Donaldson records of this era–glad you grabbed a deal. I’ve wondered about Baby Face Willette too, although I usually only get outbid on his records by .25! All I have so far is a 45 on Argo that I stumbled on in a record store.

    • I heartily recommend Baby Face Willette’s records on Argo: “Behind the Eight Ball” and “Mo’ Rock.” Mo’ Rock, in particular, is a swinger, and has a sweet cover. Also, clean, bright sound on the original Argo deep groove pressings. (As an aside, I am a HUGE Argo fan; the original pressings sound terrific and are sorely underrated, in my opinion. My Argo pressings of James Moody, Red Rodney, Ahmad Jamal, and Baby Face get as much play in our house as any Blue Notes.) While Baby Face’s Argos are cheaper than his Blue Notes ($60 Argo popsike mean v. $137 Blue Note popsike mean), they still command a few bucks on eBay, but, with patience, they can be found in record stores for reasonable prices. I paid a combined grand total of $12 for my copies.

  4. I was lucky to listen to Lou Donaldson and his quartet in New York at Lincoln Center in 2010 and in my opinion he is indeed one of the greatest jazz musicians.

      • We had the great fortune of seeing Herbie play a Coltrane and Miles tribute concert about 10 years ago and he was magical. Makes his more experimental nonsense all the more frustrating.

        • Imagine wasn’t the only upset that night. The stage admin people had failed to mount Herbie’s piano on any kind of raised platform. It was a standing only gig. He walked on, beamed at everyone, introduced the band, gave us a three minute talk on World Peace, Love, Hope and Change, then returned to his piano, sat down, and promptly disappeared from sight.

          When I say I saw him, it was only very briefly.

  5. Ehrrr… LJC? The title contains a typo: “Loe” Donaldson instead of “Lou” 🙂

    Your copy was inexpensive… I have bid on several Donaldson Blue Notes this year and lost every time to winners who in my opinion always had to pay a pretty hefty price. He certainly wasn’t lumped in the not very collectible soul-jazz box then! 😛

    • Inexpensive as clearly this record was by Donaldson’s less well known brother, Loe. Are you suggesting I can’t spell? 😉

      Post updated with the price spread on Popsike. Surprised how much it varies. Certainly a hard one to call. Perhaps Loe aside, Lou is more collectable than I had thought!

      • Hahaaa… touché! 😀

        But thinking about the typo that conceived Lou’s brother Loe: suppose a seller accidentally would have put this album online including that typo, and you were the only one to accidentally stumble upon it on eBay, you would probably have been the only bidder to walk away with a dirt cheap Lou Donaldson.

        Maybe deliberately looking on eBay for typos like Art Blaeky, Art Bleaky, or Hank Moblay, Hank Moblye, Hank Mblye would cough up another gem that the masses won’t find, making you the only bidder and soon to be proud owner of a highly collectable item!

        • My one and only bargain in that way came from a listing in which BLUE NOTE was spelled BLUENOTE, but I guess everyone knows that trick now. Check out “Goof Bay” – a sniping outfit that specialises in searching out mis-spellings.

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