Lou Donaldson Quartet. i

Lou Donaldson Quartet. John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com hide caption

itoggle caption John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com
Lou Donaldson Quartet.

Lou Donaldson Quartet.

John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com

Live At The Village Vanguard

Lou Donaldson QuartetWBGO-FM

Lou Donaldson Quartet in Concert at the Village Vanguard - 11/03/2010

  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/130859830/131055358" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

By the time he started his latest weeklong run at the Village Vanguard, alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson was 84. He'd been based in New York for 60-odd years, during which time he became a jazz legend — the kind who made albums that are still remembered today, who recorded lines memorable enough to be sampled years later, who toured the country's back rooms back when a jazz musician could post up for two weeks at a time in, say, Dayton, Ohio. It bred in him a style that was solid, soulful and swinging, with a charismatically salty wit to match. It hasn't broke, and he hasn't felt the need to fix it.

When "Sweet Poppa Lou" descended into the basement and ascended to the stage, there were the japes, the blues singing, the exemplary straight-ahead jazz he's pursued for decades. ("No fusion, no con-fusion," he said — twice.) WBGO and NPR Music will be there to broadcast and webcast the first Nov. 3 set live; it will also be recorded and archived online on this page.

Since recording with organist Jimmy Smith in the late 1950s, Donaldson has often worked with a rhythm section of Hammond B-3 organ, guitar and drums. That instrumentation allows him to dish on funky, danceable grooves; not coincidentally, it was responsible for some of his most famous appearances on record. He reprised some of those greatest hits — "Blues Walk," "Alligator Bogaloo" — and called some favorites from the bebop and hard bop eras. He even sang some blues: his trademark "Whiskey Drinkin' Woman," with many embellishments by way of prologue. With him at the Vanguard was his current working band: Pat Bianchi on organ, Randy Johnston on guitar and Fukushi Tainaka on drums.

Donaldson grew up in North Carolina. While playing in military and dance bands, he became enamored of Charlie Parker, then the modern trend in jazz. When he moved to New York to make it as a musician, he found his way into the community and, after a few years, was invited to record for Blue Note Records. He made some of his most celebrated albums for the label, and also recorded there as a sideman with Milt Jackson, Art Blakey and Jimmy Smith.

Though not as often as when he booked his own tours on the 1960s chitlin circuit, Donaldson still occasionally travels the world for gigs. He's also still based in New York City, which makes it convenient for him to play weeklong runs at the Village Vanguard. Of late, he's done so about twice a year.

Set List
  • "Blues Walk" (Donaldson)
  • "Wee" (D. Best)
  • "What A Wonderful World" (Thiele/Weiss)
  • "Fast And Freaky" (Donaldson)
  • "Whiskey Drinkin' Woman" (Donaldson)
  • "Alligator Bogaloo" (Donaldson)
  • "Bye Bye Blackbird" (Henderson/Dixon)
  • "Cherokee" (Noble)
  • Lou Donaldson, alto saxophone/vocals
  • Pat Bianchi, organ
  • Randy Johnston, guitar
  • Fukushi Tainaka, drums
  • Josh Jackson, producer and host
  • David Tallacksen, mix engineer
  • Michael Downes, production assistant
  • Lara Pellegrinelli, moderator
[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Keystone/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Keystone/Getty Images

Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program

Celebrating Rahsaan Roland Kirk

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

The late multiple-horn virtuoso certainly influenced trombonist Steve Turre, who leads this tribute.

Listen Loading… 56:32
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/439307495/439309164" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

Bill Frisell. Paul Moore/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Paul Moore/Courtesy of the artist

Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program

Up And Down The Mississippi With Bill Frisell

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

The versatile guitarist leads a set spanning New Orleans to the Delta, Bob Dylan to Bix Beiderbecke.

Listen Loading… 56:19
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/439294839/439295191" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

Betty Carter. Anthony Barboza/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Anthony Barboza/Courtesy of the artist

Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program

Celebrating Betty Carter

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Vocalist Charenée Wade leads alumni of Betty Carter's bands in a nod to Carter's lasting influence.

Listen Loading… 55:08
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/439291717/439293490" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

Max Roach. William Gottlieb/Library Of Congress hide caption

itoggle caption William Gottlieb/Library Of Congress

Jazz Night In America

Celebrating Max Roach

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Drummer Ali Jackson salutes the father of modern jazz percussion — a man who was also his teacher.

Listen Loading… 56:12
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/439268751/439291399" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
Back To Top