Thursday, 6 February 2014

Review: Lou Donaldson - Here 'Tis

Lou Donaldson’s ‘Here ‘Tis’ from 1961, recorded with a stellar band including Grant Green on guitar, Baby Face Willette on organ and Dave Bailey on drums, is one of Lou Donaldsons very best albums, finding the alto-saxophonist playing harder than usual but moving from his more familiar bop into soul-jazz territory. The first of many such excursions, the group avoid making it sound like a ‘transitional’ effort, and more like a confident stride into an already comfortable fit.

All three of the support players know how to handle a groove, and they do so with easy finesse, moving things forward with real grit and never allowing things to falter or dip for a second. In fact, just on their own the trio would be able to provide a truly memerising record, but Donaldson throws everything he’s got into his muscular yet bluesy playing and demonstrates that the more soul-orietated direction is really his ideal format. ‘A Foggy Day’, ‘Cool Blues’ and ‘Watusi Jump’ are all driving soul numbers that would truly get the crowd going, but ‘Walk Wid Me’ and the title track itself are moody and smokingly slow growlers that would sit nicely with a shot and a beer at a good blues bar.

Green and Willette grab their solo moments with skill, with Green in particular deserving mention; his famous single note playing is sharp and clear and his solos are melodically winning. Quite simply, both Green and Willette made incredibly strong records, and either mens work is, for the majority, a must have. Here alongside Donaldson at the top of his game they form a truly great band and the resulting album is simply an essential item for any fan of the three men or any lover of soul-jazz.


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