Monday, January 4, 2010

Lou DONALDSON - Good Gracious! 1963

Lou DONALDSON - Good Gracious! 1963


"Soul jazz" was just blooming when saxophonist Lou Donaldson's GOOD GRACIOUS was released in 1963. The album epitomizes the initial period of this sub-genre well, with a subtle shift away from the more intellectual jazz of the early '60s. However, this music is still swinging and very much rooted in the jazz tradition; what separates this from hard-bop is the extensive use of pure blues forms and, in some cases, the use of gospel music.

"The Holy Ghost" is a great example of this record's gospel influence. On this track, the band plays in waltz time, while the soloists play funky, down-home improvisations. Instead of playing bop solos, these very harmonically aware players use basic blues scales and accessible motifs. But don't be fooled; this music is not simplistic, and the solos here resonate with great authority. One of the record's highlights, the title track, is a blues number that builds off of a simple alto saxophone line. This melody serves as the springboard for seasoned improvisations from guitarist Grant Green, organist John Patton, and of course, Donaldson himself, who stretches out with a delightful bop solo, reminding listeners of his Charlie Parker roots.
Good Gracious may be Lou Donaldson's record, but guitarist Grant Green and organist John Patton steal the show. Working with a tight, soulful groove laid down by drummer Ben Dixon, the guitarist and organist trade hot lines that often steal the thunder from Donaldson, who nevertheless turns in a robust, tuneful performance. Donaldson's tone is richer and fuller than it is on many of his early '60s records, and he really connects with the laid-back R&B grooves and soul-jazz vamps on Good Gracious, turning in melodic, memorable solos. However, Grant and Patton take the songs even further with their intense solos and fills; Patton, in particular, sounds on fire even when the tempo is mellow. Good Gracious still falls prey to some of the lazy tempos that pop up on most Lou Donaldson records, but it remains one of his finest soul-jazz sessions
Lou Donaldson- Alto Sax
John Patton- Organ
Grant Green- Guitar
Ben Dixon- Drums
A1. Bad John 8:18 
A2. The Holy Ghost 8:38
A3. Cherry 5:17
B1. Caracas 7:19
B2. Good Gracious 6:52 
B3. Don't Worry 'Bout Me 5:35

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