Saturday, January 23, 2010

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Spotlight on Lou Donaldson

Our video spotlight this week shines on the veteran alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, who will return to St. Louis to play Wednesday, February 3 through Saturday, February 6 at Jazz at the Bistro.

A native of North Carolina, the 83-year-old Donaldson came of age in the post-war bebop era and first recorded way back in 1952. He went on to work with many of the leading jazz musicians of the 1950s, including Milt Jackson, Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Art Blakey and Clifford Brown. By the 1960s Donaldson was a staple of the Blue Note label, which released his signature tune "Alligator Boogaloo" as well as many other LPs featuring him. He continues to perform regularly, often teaming up with the organ player Dr. Lonnie Smith, and delivers a crowd-pleasing mix of bop, ballads, blues and backbeats.

Today's first clip features Donaldson swinging the standard "Bye Bye Blackbird" at a 1994 gig in Geneva, Switzerland, accompanied by pianist Horace Parlan, bassist Wayne Dockery and drummer John Riley. Down below, you can check out Donaldson's ballad style on a version of "Laura" from the same show.

Next up, it's an extended version (in two parts) of "Alligator Boogaloo" from the 2008 North Sea Jazz Festival, for which Donaldson was joined by Smith on organ, guitarist Randy Johnson and drummer Fukushi Tainaka. The final clip features Donaldson singing the blues "Whiskey Drinkin' Woman," again backed by Smith, Johnson and Tainaka.

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