JAZZ BLOG 08, DAY 4: They Put On A Show

Posted in REVIEWS

icon By Ron Netsky on Jun. 17th, 2008 at 5:29am

…I also had to see Lou Donaldson, one of the greats on saxophone, at Kilbourn Hall. Donaldson is old school, from the days when a jazz musician was an entertainer. So he told jokes, sang a blues tune, and kidded his Japanese band members about coming from Alabama and Mississippi. It was corny but endearing coming from him.Those band members, Fukushi Tainaka on drums and Akiko Tsuruga on the Hammond B3 organ, were quite incredible. Tainaka played most of the set keeping a steady inauspicious beat, but when called upon to solo he became Ginger Baker on steroids. Tsuruga played the organ like Jimmy Smith. Her technique was formidable, and she knew how to wring every ounce of emotion out of the instrument.

Guitarist Eric Johnson was also excellent, playing some Wes Montgomery-style solos and, at one point, going wireless and walking through the audience and even out of the hall while continuing to play a scorching blues solo. Like I said, they put on a show.

Of course, Donaldson was the best of all. He’s got his history, dating from the 1950’s, and he’s still got his chops. It was great to hear his simple, catchy hits like “Blues Walk” and “Alligator Boogaloo,” but Donaldson also played some challenging songs like “Cherokee” and “We” with an unmistakable flair.

And he was wonderfully opinionated, introducing his encore, “Bye Bye Blackbird,” by saying, “This is a tune Miles Davis did when he was playing jazz.”…

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