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Everything I Play Is Funky (1969)

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Lou Donaldson

Although purists might not find it as much to their taste as Midnight Creeper, Everything I Play Is Funky is easily one of the best examples of Lou Donaldson's commercially accessible period of the late '60s and early '70s. Donaldson's forays into funk and R&B-driven soul-jazz could sometimes sound stiff, but the grooves here -- which feature many of the same players -- are consistently limber and unforced. And, typical of the style, the grooves (not adventurous improvisation) are what make the album tick. For once, Donaldson's attempt at an R&B cover -- in this case, the Lee Dorsey-sung, Allen Toussaint-penned "Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky (From Now On)" -- is pulled off well enough to make for an entirely convincing statement of purpose. That number kicks off an entertaining program also highlighted by three Donaldson originals -- the cooking funk number "Donkey Walk," which seems to inspire the fieriest solos on the record, the cheery calypso "West Indian Daddy," and the hard bop-flavored "Minor Bash." There's also a version of "Over the Rainbow" done in Donaldson's caressing, melodic ballad style, and the simple funk vamp "Hamp's Hump." It's a nicely varied assortment, all anchored by the percolating rhythm section of guitarist Melvin Sparks, bassist Jimmy Lewis, and drummer Idris Muhammad (Charles Earland and Dr. Lonnie Smith switch off on organ, and Blue Mitchell and Eddie Williams do the same on trumpet). This is the sort of record that modern-day Donaldson disciples like the Sugarman Three cherish, and one of his few truly consistent efforts in this style. Recommended wholeheartedly to funk and rare-groove fans. ~ Steve Huey