Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Poppaganda: Then Came Lou

Lou Donaldson Quartet - Alligator Boogaloo

We'll inaugurate Autumn and November with the birthday of a truly ageless wonder.

He retired in 2018, placing the capstone on a career that can only be described as astonishing.

His backstory is almost the arc of the development of the music of the last 70+ years.

Beginning as a Charlie Parker acolyte way back in 1952 -- his first recording as a leader! -- his readiness to accept the changes taking place in the music as The Sixties progressed is said to have led to a watershed moment that altered the course of history.

See, once upon a time back in the era when the dinosaurs roamed an Earth covered by red plankton, Jazz was considered a social music to party and dance to.

Over the course of the 20th Century, it got more and more complex and difficult, taking the music away from the Saturday Night juke joint milieu in which it began.

In the mid-1960s, it was becoming more and more impossible for even the established Jazz stars to make a living, given the encroachment of Rock and its burgeoning popularity.

Enter our hero, who -- by the mere selection of his drummer, a native of New Orleans where Jazz began! -- accidentally helped orchestrate a seismic shift in sound.

The mythos goes that it was during a performance of his band in the Crescent City in 1965 that a certain Godfather Of Soul was in the house, and taking notes.

The legend has it that it was at this moment that James Brown -- watching Idris Muhammad (then Leo Morris) put a whole club full of booty into motion -- decided that the whole world was ready to Give Up The Funk.

Bottom line: it was the introduction of the N'awlins second line Mardi Gras rhythms into Jazz that gave birth to the revolution in popular music that led to Funk, Hip-Hop and everything we take for granted today.

And by his lack of resistance to change, Lou Donaldson -- born this day in 1926 and turning an impossible 96 today!!!! -- was a prime catalyst for all of it.

Merely by presenting the music in a way more reflective of its roots in fun and dancing -- more syncopated grooving, less unwashed college beatniks stroking their goatees to suspended 13ths played at 7000 BPM -- Sweet Poppa Lou shone the way towards a new day.

Of course, he also played his own tunes along the way. These are all now standards, like Blues Walk and Alligator Boogaloo and Midnight Creeper, and they'll be played for centuries after we're all gone from this place.

To celebrate this Hall of Fame icon of The Groove, I've got all sorts of stuff in the folder for you today, beginning with two shows from the early 2000s where he's got the same, smokin' quartet.

Lou Donaldson Quartet

Syracuse Jazz Festival
Onondaga County Community College
Syracuse, New York USA

01 Hot Dog/band introductions
02 The Best Things In Life Are Free
03 Somewhere Over the Rainbow
04 Fast & Freaky
05 Bad Mood Music/Whiskey Drinking Woman
06 Midnight Creeper

Total time: 55:53

mono DAT recorded directly from the mixing desk by the legendary Terry Sullivan
titles corrected & retracked -- with volume boosted throughout, digiblips smoothed, and beginning of first song restored -- by EN, October 2022

New Morning
Paris, France

01 Blues Walk
02 Just a Dream (On My Mind)
03 Alligator Boogaloo
04 Whiskey Drinking Woman
05 Cherokee
06 Midnight Creeper
07 Gravy Train

Total time: 58:19

Lou Donaldson - alto saxophone & vocals
Dr. Lonnie Smith - organ
Randy Johnston - guitar
Fukushi Tainaka - drums

224/48K audio extracted from a 2004 Mezzo satellite TV broadcast
converted to 16/44 CD Audio and tracked -- with volume boosted throughout -- by EN, October 2022
279 & 344 MB respectively/direct link

In addition to these two killer sets -- both of which feature the organ Dr. Lonnie Smith, whom I just covered a little ways ago -- I slung the 2 1/2-hour Lou compilation I keep in my phone into the cloud for your enjoyment. If its 23 selections fail to shake your rear end, you are likely deceased and should report to the nearest morgue immediately.

I shall return soon with a November to remember, but let's hear it one more time for Lou Donaldson, who's still kicking having already Funked the world so exquisitely in these last 60 years. Blow your horn, Lou!--J.