Blue Note


The Finest In Jazz Since 1939
High Fidelity

Sweet Lou (1974)


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Lou Donaldson

An examination of the famous Blue Note catalog reveals that, on the average, the style of music featured on Lou Donaldson's Sweet Lou is just as typical to the label as the recordings for which it is justifiably renowned. Few would remember the label at all if every Blue Note title was candy of the Sweet Lou sort, these sorts of productions and arrangements bringing to mind a cookie-cutter production line. Still, the passing of time has been in some ways been kind to these efforts, blurring the original impression given of careers headed downhill. Donaldson's tone on alto saxophone, regardless of setting, sounds like Charlie Parker after he has spent the night stuffed into one of those jars of pickled eggs on the menu in particularly hardcore bars. He stuffs banal compositions on this program such as "If You Can't Handle It, Give It to Me" with sublime Kansas City jazz blues licks as if festooning a National Guard unit with candy bar wrappers. The 1974 setting, following standard operating procedure for the period, is a nougat of trumpet and trombone charts plus a funky rhythm section infiltrated by trendy clavinet and synthesizer sounds. During two sessions a week apart, overlapping waves of session musicians nudged into each other's breathing room, ringers such as ex-bandleader Buddy Lucas blasting harmonica licks into the ears of A-team guitarists David Spinozza and Hugh McCracken. Bernard "Pretty" Purdie played drums on some of this, leaving behind shards of ingenuity that in some cases represent the main reason subsequent generations of listeners returned to this material, its initial impact and subsequent shelf life roughly equal to that of a baggage clam stub. Coming back from a "Hip Trip," however, a traveler may want to save such an item to trigger fond memories, in this case of nicely executed cover of a tune by Don Patterson, ace jazz organist. Things fall into place nicely on the closing "Peepin' Herman's Mambo," any variation on the Afro-Cuban jazz gestalt being as familiar to the Blue Note hellions as rice at a wedding. Furthermore, it swings. Starting over again, "You're Welcome, Stop on By" is a cover version of a funk hit associated with Bobby Womack, the presence of a female vocal team as alluring as signs announcing a chemical spill ahead. A commercial influence of a more pleasing nature is the continual copping from Stevie Wonder. ~ Eugene Chadbourne