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Midnight Sun (1960)

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Lou Donaldson

Recorded in July of 1960, Midnight Sun sat unissued in Blue Note's vaults until the early '80s, when it was issued as part of their LT series. Like many of the previously unreleased albums in the series, it's clear that the only reason this remained in the vaults was because the label was releasing too many records, not because the session itself was second-rate. Granted, there are a couple of awkward moments on the date, but for the most part, Midnight Sun is as strong as any of the hard bop records Donaldson released in the early '60s. Part of the reason the quality is so high is the fact his supporting quartet is so strong. Pianist Horace Parlan has a number of fine moments on the record, and Lou's longtime rhythm section of bassist Ben Tucker, drummer Al Harewood, and conga player Ray Barretto is as reliable as ever. Any dedicated Donaldson fan should search for this record; even if it doesn't reach the heights of Blues Walk and Here 'Tis, it still has plenty of fine music. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine