"The Natural Soul" -- A Natural Choice for the RVG Series
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 02/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With the last several RVG releases, Michael Cuscuna has been able to reissue several Blue Note titles that have not been available on CD for going on ten years. Lou Donaldson's "The Natural Soul" was a natural choice to once again see the light of day. Recorded on May 9, 1962, "The Natural Soul" features Lou on alto sax, Tommy Turrentine (in a rare Blue Note stint away from brother Stanley) on trumpet, and the guitar/organ/drums trio of Grant Green, John Patton, and Ben Dixon. But this is not your average organ soul jazz record! Sure the obligatory groove track "Funky Mama" is here, but rest of the album puts more emphasis on great straight ahead jazz than it does in trying to conform to the soul jazz tag. In many ways the "natural soul" comes from a "natural swing" - five guys playing in top form and just letting it flow. Often Patton can be a bit heavy-handed for me, but here he shines and shimmers like Jimmy Smith. The frontline interplay between Lou and Tommy also helps to open things up. And surprise, the disc's best track just may be the ballad "That's All." If you like this Lou Donaldson performance, a next step should be to get the recently released "Complete 1957-60 Blue Note Recordings" on Mosaic, and in the meantime, enjoy a taste of "The Natural Soul.""
A funky transition!
Dr.D.Treharne | Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom | 02/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album, recorded in 1962 straddles two eras, and the choice of material on the album reflects that.On the one hand there's a look back to standards like George and Ira Gershwins "Love walked in" with some lovely ensemble playing and the extended added track of Rodgers and Hammerstein's, "People will say we're in love" where all the performers get to solo, as well as playing in ensemble. However the look forward is to funk. Obviously John Patten's "Funky Mama" is the core track, and Patten get extensive solo time, propelled along by Ben Dixon ( the two of them had played together in Lloyd Price's road band- and it's the only time on the album that Dixon exerts himself to push the track along).The other really propulsive track is "Nice and Greasy" which sounds as though it might have been an edited version. The most compelling Donaldson playing is perhaps on the extended "Sow Belly Blues". Grant Green is in excellent form throughout, melding well with Patton's organ work. Tommy Turrentine plays best on the more upbeat funky tracks, but provides an excellent counterpoint to the alto sax. All in all this is a welcome re-issue that looks forward to the funky fare that was to be served up later in the decade by players from this session in various guises.Highly recommended, and of course likely to be discontinued soon, so buy it now!"
One of my favorite LOU DONALDSON albums ! ! !
Eddie Landsberg | Tokyo, Japan | 04/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Interesting thing about LOU DONALDSON - - he always had atleast ONE great jukebox nickel gobbler on his CD no matter where-else the album went after - - and it was almost always a blues played in his latest style... In the case of this album its Big John Patton's contribution FUNKY MAMMA that steals the show... a tune which like MIDNIGHT CREEPER and ALLIGATOR BOOGALOO became a popular hit with numerous artists also recording their own versions - - An intense rump shaking blues with old school organ shout chorus, its reminiscent of the old AC sound, but has that unique Patton/Dixon/Green groove. Though not too far removed from JOS's CHICKEN SHACK I find it even more intense.
The second track LOVE WALKED IN features Big John Patton, clearly under the influence of Jack McDuff as a soloist but with a Babyface Willette type bass line (actually he various his bass playing style from tune to tune on this album in a way few players were capable of doing and also plays the coolest backing chords in the world - - second only to Freddie Roach!) - - Green also takes a nicely boppish solo. Playing bop is one thing, but at the particular tempo of the tune his crisp articulation and phrasing are really brought out (hint for guitarists looking for tunes to study !)
Another BLUES greaser on this album is the SPACEMAN TWIST - - both gut shaking and groovily bluesy, yet (as its title goes) off centeredly twisty (on the head) - - Dixon's perfect (yet brighter than average) shuffle, Patton's rumbly bass and Greens "jada" comp really make it happen... Tommy Turrentine also gets more than a taste. - - In contrast Sowbelly Blues on the other hands is a Latinish take on an old Children's Nursery tune that you'll definitely recognize... rather than the hook being in the melody it occurs on the lead in to the solos... band really cooks on this and Lou Donaldson's love of Charlie Parker really shines !
Another suprize is THAT'S ALL - - a rare opportunity to hear Patton really playing an "Orthodox" B-3 (pedals and all) with a very intense and gushingly blue sound. (Ben Dixon's on brushes on this one.)
Back to the Blues - -a bebopish bootie shaker then finally the tightly swinging version of PEOPLE WILL SAY WE'RE IN LOVE (bonus track)- - (Green really cooks on it!) -- All in all an album good for dancing, toe tapping as well as listening... hence the perfect listen regardless of your mood.
Of all of Donaldson's ensembles this one is the most interesting - - least technical yet MOST soulful and MOST together... (They came up together playing R & B on the chitlin' circuit.) - - Big John in particular is amazing... in many ways a Miles Davis like character... for example, he lacked the technical virtuosity of most his peers, yet had a type of conceptualism and mischievious creativity that often makes him even more engaging than any of his peers. (Definitely Patton paved the way for many of the more progressive players to follow - - especially Larry Young.) - - Turrentine takes great solos, Donadlson Bops away... and Green is brilliant in his trademark ladeback yet potent style. (You kinda don't know he's there at times, then suddenly there's that unique Grant Green *and only* Grant Green sound!)
All in all, fans of the Blue Note groove and the Lou Donaldson sound can't go wrong with this one... then again, can you ever go wrong with ANY of the members in this group?"