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Lou Donaldson : Blues Walk


An alto player originally deep-rooted in bop, who by the late fifties was beginning to shed his Charlie Parker influences and take a more bluesy/soul approach. Blues Walk, from a one-day session in July of ’58 has attained unanimous five-star status with the title track itself becoming one of the leader’s signature tunes. Surrounding himself not with the usual all-stars found on many Blue Note dates from this period,

Donaldson carefully chose his cohorts personally for their cohesiveness as a unit. Never one to engage frequently in wide-open “blowing sessions,” the results are powerful yet melodic and in one case, “Autumn Nocturne,” fairly romantic without causing full-blown diabetes. Pianist Herman Foster’s intense pianistics almost steal the show while Peck Morrison’s bass and the often-overlooked Dave Bailey’s drumming augment to perfection. The addition of Ray Barretto’s congas (a regular on many of Donaldson’s sessions from this period) is tasteful and a nice touch without turning every song into a Latin re-write.

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SKU: Blue Note BN 1593 [3] Categories: , , Tags: , , , ,


Lou Donaldson’s undisputed masterpiece, Blues Walk, marks the point where the altoist began to decisively modify his heavy Charlie Parker influence and add a smoky, bluesy flavor of his own. The material is still firmly in the bebop vein, and the mellower moments aren’t as sleepy as some of Donaldson’s subsequent work, so the album sounds vital and distinctive even as it slows down and loosens things up. That makes it the definitive release in Donaldson’s early, pre-soul-jazz period, but what elevates Blues Walk to classic status is its inviting warmth. Donaldson’s sweetly singing horn is ingratiating and melodic throughout the six selections, making even his most advanced ideas sound utterly good-natured and accessible. The easy-swinging title cut is a classic, arguably Donaldson’s signature tune even above his late-’60s soul-jazz hits, and his other two originals — “Play Ray” and “Callin’ All Cats” — are in largely the same vein. Elsewhere, Donaldson displays opposite extremes of his sound; the up-tempo bebop classic “Move” provokes his fieriest playing on the record, and his romantic version of “Autumn Nocturne” is simply lovely, a precursor to Lush Life. The addition of Ray Barretto on conga is a subtle masterstroke, adding just a bit more rhythmic heft to the relaxed swing. There are numerous likable records in Donaldson’s extensive catalog, but Blues Walk is the best of them all.

1. Blues Walk
2. Move
3. The Masquerade Is Over
1. Play Ray
2. Autumn Nocturne
3. Callin’ All Cats


Additional information

Weight 0.550 kg
Dimensions 32.0 × 32.0 × 2.0 cm