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Midnight Creeper by Lou Donaldson

To my knowledge, this Japanaese reissue is not yet available in the U.S. Blue Note catalog. Originally released in 1968, it should be considered one of Lou Donaldson's finest from his days of pre-commercial funk.

Donaldson covered the title track in the early 1990's, but three's more pronounced upbeath rhythm in this original version. The goal here was to get into the new sound of soul-jazz in the late 1960's. For those who remember, its stsructure is vey similar to "Alligator Boogaloo." The solos by Donaldson and Lonnie Smith are perhaps the funkiest pieces you'll find. The mood continues with "Love Power," which was suitable for the house party of its day. Smith takes the first solo as well as the close. He's a passionate organist; relentless, but his timing is so very precise when it comes to the climax. Donaldson,always ready to play happy music, shows he's at his best in this vein. Trumpeter Blue Mitchell is a kindred spirit in this unusual setting, so he generally didn't perform with organ groups, but he was certainly not uncomfortable with it. George Benson, the ever-evolving guitarist, was no stranger to funky jazz, having performed with Jack McDuff and led his own sessions on Columbia, turning out some pretty serious gems. His guitar brings the cool to this very heated session.

The finest, most favored track has got to be Donaldson's "Elizabeth." Donaldson opens with a romantic call as Idris Muhammad drums a near-bossa rhythm that's ultimately sensual. Benson then tributes this "lady" with tender appreciation to prepare for more to come. Then, we have Smith in one of his finest moments. His staccato attack is hot and heavy, but he understands the need for restraint in this silky ballad.

"Bag of Jewels," is like a really sinister soundtrack piece. The horn sections comes on strong leading into Smith's fancy fingerwork on the Hammond. This tarck has a triumphant spirit like succdessful thieves at a jewelry store. Benson burns on guitar, paving the way for Donaldson to take part in this criminally wicked groove. If you like the classic "Killer Joe," meet "Dapper Dan" as Mitchell introduces you to this guy and turns up the cool, while Benson and Smith give you two sides of his mean, but ever so sweet character.

This CD is ag reat find for me personally. Donaldson emerged more deeply into funk instrumentals at this point and he was obviously quite capable. This set of music is one that deserves closer attention when researching the past of soul-jazz. Donaldson and his handmates delivered the goods here. It's a recommended chunk of history.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Lou Donaldson
  • CD Title: Midnight Creeper
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 1997
  • Record Label: Blue Note/Toshiba (Japan)
  • Musicians: Blue Mitchell-trumpet, Lou Donaldson-alto saxophone, George Benson-guitar, Lonnie Smith-organ, Leo Morris (aka Idris Muhammad)-drums
  • Rating: Five Stars
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