April 3, 2016

Lou Donaldson - Lou Donaldson Sextet, Vol. 2 (1955)

As usual I'm impressed with Lou Donaldson's performance and this listen reinforces his rank on my theoretical "best saxophonists of all time" list. The Charlie Parker influence on his fluttery style is obvious, but jazz groups centered around Art Blakey were onto a different style of small-group jazz, --hard bop--an offshoot of bebop with all sorts of subtle inclusions of latin, afro, gospel, and blues cues (you probably know that though if you've dug this deep into 50s jazz). This album is built around the Lou Donaldson/Kenny Dorham/Art Blakey trinity, an early incarnation of The Jazz Messengers, and the three interact well through because of many shared experiences on the bandstand. The album really hinges on the underrated piano-oddity, Elmo Hope. He replaces the most flavorful Jazz Messenger, Horace Silver, with his own unique force. A lovely mix of Horace Silver funk and Bud Powell is an accurate way to describe his playing, I think. As much as I love those Art Blakey centered albums from the late part of the 50s and into the 60s where the recording quality benefits his grand snare eruptions, I prefer these fuzzy takes of brisk bebop-ish jam sessions. A cozy record that radiates good vibes, and it's not that much of a listening commitment either since it is only 20 minutes long (seems to be only ever issued in 10 inch format).

A post-review discovery-- As it turns out, all of these songs minus After You've Gone were later pressed on the Quartet/Quintet/Sextet 12 inch. After You've Gone was included in the reissue bonus tracks. Oh well, I thought I stumbled upon a hidden gem here, but all of these songs are on one of my favorite albums of all time and I didn't even realize it. If you're a completist or looking for a half-album to play for time purposes then get this for the hell of it.

Sextet, Vol. 2