Blue Note At 75, The Concert: Lou Donaldson & Dr. Lonnie Smith

Written by Patrick Jarenwattananon from NPR

In a stretch of Blue Note albums throughout the 1950s, ’60s and even early ’70s, alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, now 87, emblematized the hard bop and soul jazz that we now consider “straight-ahead.” The old dog has resisted certain new tricks in music — “no fusion, no confusion” is his motto — but he’s certainly expanded his palette of dirty jokes to include, well, modern medicine. At the Blue Note at 75 concert, Donaldson warmed up the crowd and gave it some of his classic greasy polish. Sweet Poppa Lou was accompanied by organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, whose time in Donaldson’s band got him his own Blue Note deal.

Backed also by drummer Kendrick Scott and guitarist Lionel Loueke (also a Blue Note artist), Donaldson called his vocal feature “Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman” and the funky “Alligator Boogaloo” — the 1967 tune that Donaldson and Smith turned into an accidental hit.


Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Suraya Mohamed, Patrick Jarenwattananon; Audio Engineer: Duke Markos; Videographers: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo, Olivia Merrion, Christopher Parks; Special Thanks: Jason Moran (Artistic Director for Jazz at the Kennedy Center), Blue Note Records, Mark and Rachel Dibner of the Argus Fund, The Wyncote Foundation; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit


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