Lou Donaldson: Donkey Walk


Donkey Walk


Lou Donaldson (alto sax)


Everything I Play Is Funky (Blue Note 31248)

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Lou Donaldson (alto sax),

Eddie Williams (trumpet)), Charles Earland (organ), Melvin Sparks (guitar), Jimmy Lewis (bass), Idris Muhammad (drums)


Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, August 22, 1969


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Many jazz purists were enraged when Lou Donaldson ditched bebop for the boogaloo. One of the finest Bird-cloned altoists had chopped off his wings, jumped off the top of Bebop mountain and plummeted straight to the bottom of “sell-out” pit (please note my sarcasm).

In reality, Donaldson’s sense of melody was never more astute than on his late-'60s Blue Note albums. His playing is bluesy, economical and reserved; his intent is not to blow your mind with flurried 16th notes and upper-structure dissonance, but to lure you in with a hook and hit you in your gut. When compared to his 1950s records, this approach may seem lazy to some, but it is the remarkable ease, logic and flow of his ideas that make his soul-jazz recordings just as essential. You won’t simply be listening to Donaldson—you’ll be feeling him.

On “Donkey Walk,” each chorus begins with a four-bar break that Donaldson fills masterfully with unparalleled soulfulness and clarity. In the plethora of funky beats that Idris Muhammad has dropped over the years, I dare to say that this is one of his catchiest and grooviest. Jimmy Lewis’s Latin-tinged bassline is steady and vital and Charles Earland adds some excellent playing to the mix. Donaldson was a bold trendsetter, and this is one of his finest recordings.

Reviewer: Matt Leskovic

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