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September 2005

Lou Donaldson
Say It Loud!
Water

Lou Donaldson’s Alligator Bogaloo was such a big soul-jazz hit in 1967 that the formula was still set for this 1968 LP: Don’t do much harmonically—all five tracks are in blues-boogie mode, even standards like “Summertime” and “Caravan”—but do groove like mofos.

It’s hard to out-funk James Brown, and the title track is a pleasant if half-hearted effort: When Donaldson shouts “Say it again” the guys respond “I’m black I’m proud” like they’ve been told to repeat what the teacher said. But Donaldson’s “Snake Bone” features the band at its most active and inspired. Idris “Leo Morris” Muhammad’s snare positively crackles, his beats all loose-limbed skipping over the drum head. Guitarist Jimmy Ponder’s solo sums up all his skills, from nasty blues licks to octave swarms, plus dirty hammer-ons and pull-offs. Organist Charles “The Mighty Burner” Earland lets loose with skittering melody lines and crowd-rousing drones and swells during his solo. Blue Mitchell’s ringing, pure soul trumpet tone punches through the mix, and Donaldson—playing an alto sax augmented by a Varitone electronic attachment for a slightly fuller, reverbier sound—is his usual funked-up self.

Originally published in September 2005
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