December 25, 2014

Lou Donaldson - Quartet/Quintet/Sextet (1952-1954)

Alto saxophone is a hard instrument to play (well). Obviously its tone is brighter and more gentle, therefore easier to mess up. Ever notice how there is a whole league of humdrum tenor players who--while are passable--don't offer much excitement? Even legends like Jackie McLean send off some squeaks. Besides Bird of course, Lou Donaldson is probably my favorite altoist save for some hearty competition from Cannonball. Strongly influenced by Charlie Parker, Donaldson holds his own. I mean he's not the hummingbird Parker was but who is right? He's more like a cardinal or a sparrow or some shit I don't know. His rhythm section is fantastic whether it's the groovy fire of Horace Silver and Art Blakey or the Bud Powell influenced Elmo Hope. This was back in the days when Donaldson was a part of the Jazz Messengers, so these guys had played plenty around the clubs in New York already and it really shows. The mid-50s was Dorham's time to shine as well and his soft tone just glides along with Blakey. Also a very early showing of Blue Mitchell before he was officially apart of the Horace Silver quintet of the early 60s if that interests any jazz fans out there. Check this out if you want stylish showings of all these early Jazz Messengers. This is one of those 12 inch Blue Note compilations of all the 10 inch and 45's before the LP was around, so they'll be rather brief moments of charming recording quality.