Posted in ARTICLES

by Ron Scott
October 26, 2023

…Iconic saxophonist Lou—Popa Lou, Sweet Lou—Donaldson, who put the funk and blues in the alto saxophone with standards like “Alligator Boogaloo,” will celebrate his 97th birthday at Dizzy’s jazz club (60th Street and Broadway) on October 30 at 7 p.m.

NEA Jazz Master Donaldson has been spicing the jazz mix since the 1950s, through his formative years. After his honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy, he returned home to Greensboro, N.C., where he resumed playing local night clubs while attending North Carolina A&T State University. As a saxophonist during the bebop era, like many, he was influenced by the great Charlie Parker. Upon his arrival in New York, he began working with such beboppers as Milt Jackson and Thelonious Monk.

From the very beginning, Donaldson was an influencer on the jazz scene with his sweet tone, infused with sho’nuff blues, soul, straight-ahead jazz, with tinges of his bebop era; “no hip hop or Kenny G tunes.” He refers to his sound as the “soul sax.”

While Donaldson has retired his alto sax, we can rely on him to offer some Papa Lou words of wisdom and maybe sing a few bars of “Whiskey Woman.” He will enjoy his celebration, sitting close to the stage as his spirited soul ignites the playing of organist Akiko Tsuruga, vocalist Champian Fulton, and surprise special guests as they salute him on his milestone 97th birthday (which is on November 1).

The band for the evening will include drummer Fukushi Tainaka, guitarist Peter Bernstein, and alto saxophonist Nick Hepton, plus a host of special guests.

For reservations and more info, visit…