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File under: Hard BopSoul-Jazz

Lou Donaldson

Alligator Bogaloo (LP)

Label: Blue Note

Format: LP

Genre: Jazz

Out of stock

To believe in serendipity - that’s the operative word when it comes to alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson’s soul-jazz hit, Alligator Bogaloo, the opening track from the leader’s heralded -artistically and commercially - album of the same name, released by Blue Note in 1967. The tale of its origin has been told so many times that it holds mythic status of affirming the power of improvisational jazz. For his LP session at Rudy Van Gelder’s Englewood Cliffs, N.J., studio, Lou finished recording five tracks (including two relatively short tunes, The Thang and I Want a Little Girl, but then was told that he was three minutes shy of a complete album. With no new compositions left in his songbook for the quintet date, he decided to cook up a quickie filler, even if it were to be relegated to the last spins of the album’s second side. So, a toss-away? Not so. Lou made up an impromptu riff and figured the rest of his band would just follow him on his ad hoc ditty. The melodic figure of the simple, easy-going piece was so infectious that the band played along joyfully, with cornet player Melvin Lastie taking the lead along with Lou, while the rhythm section - youngsters all, including B-3 up-and-comer Lonnie Smith, pre-superstar guitarist George Benson and drummer Leo Morris (the birth name of soon-to-be session ace Idris Muhammad) - got the rhythm grooving and made the song - and all its listeners - dance. Lou took the first break, followed by Melvin, George and Lonnie - all delivering light-hearted, playful solos that stretched the song well beyond the three-minute goal (it clocks in at 6:57). And, after the experience of playing the song and hearing it back, they all realized it was the crème de la crème of the album, hence its privileged sequencing position as lead-off. It’s interesting that more than fifty years after this kind of ’60s fusion was recorded, it is accurately deemed straight-ahead by today’s standards. And in Lou’s alto delivery, there’s no confusing that it’s deliciously straight-ahead.

File under: Hard BopSoul-Jazz
Cat. number: BST-84263
Year: 2019

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