Apologies, initial post went horribly wrong, new WordPress block-editor, missing text, now reinstated, and rip.
Selection: Nice ‘n Greasy (Johnny Acea – pianist on Don Wilkerson’s “Elder Don”)
YouTube has the whole album
Approaching 200,000 views
Tommy Turrentine, trumpet; Lou Donaldson, alto saxophone; “Big” John Patton, organ; Grant Green, guitar; Ben Dixon, drums; engineer Rudy Van Gelder, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, May 9, 1962
Lou Donaldson is living proof that happy music goes with longer life – currently innings 93 and not out.
Though widely associated with soul jazz, Donaldson’s first recordings appeared in the early 50’s and his first appearance on Blue Note was in the company of bop giants: BLP 1509, Milt Jackson And The Thelonious Monk Quintet , and BLP 1511, The Thelonious Monk Sextet, Genius Of Modern Music Volume 2, taking the lead on BLP 1537 Lou Donaldson Quartet,Quintet/Sextet, with Horace Silver, then joining the hard-bop predecessor to The Jazz Messengers, The Art Blakey Quintet, with Clifford Brown trumpet.
By the later ’50s, Donaldson had well established himself in the Blue Note soul jazz portfolio, in the mid ’60s moving to the Cadet and Argo label with the same formula, returning to join Liberty Blue Note with a string of boogaloo titles in line with their label direction: BN 4263 Alligator Boogaloo; BN 4271 Mr Shingaling; BN 4280 Midnight Creeper; BN 4299 Say It Loud; and BN 4318 Hot Dog, (which Blue Note themselves describe as “a series of less interesting funk recordings that were instantly dated and not worthy of his talent“).
Starting in the 70’s, electric guitars and electric bass took their place in Donaldson’s line up, electric piano, and mercifully briefly, a varitone electric sax. A decade of happy music followed. Scott Yannow notes Donaldson’s return to form in the ’80s, with soul-jazz and hard bop dates for Muse, Timeless, and Milestone, up until a last recording in 1993, at which point which Donaldson seems to have hung up his alto, to enjoy his well-earned retirement, receive various jazz industry awards, and select special live appearances to reprise his greatest hits.
In one interview, Donaldson declared himself an unashamed crowd-pleaser. “I always had my music geared to the people,” he said. “‘ ’cause when I played, I listened to what they were giving me the applause for.” Not a bad metric for a musician.
The Natural Soul finds Lou Donaldson digging into soul-jazz with a set of organ-combo instrumentals.. Absent a bass, organ pedals instead, the quintet format adds more interest with Stanley’s brother Tommy Turrentine on trumpet, while the trio of Grant Green, John Patton, and Ben Dixon keep things cooking nicely. The album maintains the trajectory Lou Donaldson established with his earlier soul-jazz forays, Here ‘Tis and Gravy Train and remains one of his better Blue Notes in that genre, though Blues Walk , absent the organ, remains my favourite Lou Donaldson album of all time..
The material in The Natural Soul is straight blues and soul vamps, which provide an excellent foundation for the organ combo work.Green and Patton’s solos burn and are always in the groove. Dusty Groove adds: “The tracks have a tight jaunty feel – very much like those on Patton’s mid 60s sides for Blue Note, with lots of room for each player to solo intently – but still a strong focus on the overall groove of the ensemble”
It is a happy groove, and that’s what The Natural Soul is all about. For those not familiar with the word “happy“, it is perhaps something in short supply today , and good to find.
Vinyl: BLP 4108
New York label, Plastylite, Deep Groove, Mono.
Cover design, note the use by Reid Miles of Capital Punishment: no capital letters. Feels suitably informal.
An LJC acquisition in the early days, around 2012, according to my notes. My jazz-rookie ears took to the soul jazz format early on, buying a good number of titles, before progressing to more demanding material. It is quite a long journey of several years, from feet to belt, and to two ears. The dividing line for me is Donaldson’s organ-combo work, which included Babyface Willette, Big John Patton, Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff; Billy Gardner, Lonnie Smith and Charles Earland; and his conventional piano (and real bass) line up with Herman Foster, or Horace Parlan, the latter much preferred
Note to self: time to revisit Lou’s early 1500 series Blue Notes, which sadly I have only on rather soft Japanese editions. 1500 series original Blue Notes are not something readily found: originals of those below heading for the $2,000 ceiling.
From Quartet Quintet Sextet – The Stroller
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As you acquire bits and pieces in the jazz-collecting journey, you buy things out of chronological and stylistic sequence, simply because they are there. My watchword has always been the opportunity: “if you see it, buy it, you may never see it again“. That has certainly proved true, some priceless treasures, at the small expense of acquiring a few duds.You can never recover lost opportunity, because it has gone, it’s lost. You also have to get over buyer’s remorse having over-paid for a record. It’s only money. It is evened out by the times you paid not enough, the bargains.Hi-diddle-e-dee, a collector’s life for me.
Any Lou favourites out there?