Monday, 15 February 2010
LOU DONALDSON at RONNIE SCOTT'S
Not for the first time, alto-sax legend Lou Donaldson has to put up with a couple of off-their-head geezers gate crashing his dressing room. He’s just finished the last of his stint at Ronnie Scott’s with a Friday midnight show and at 83 you’d think could do with some well earned rest but, as ever, is the perfect gentleman, happy to slouch back in his chair and field slurred gibberish from two imbeciles as his band look on with wry amusement. Or it may be pity.
The last time in London he had Dr Lonnie Smith on Hammond and they served up a soul-jazz “Alligator Boogaloo” style set. Tonight he’s in a more bebop kind of mood but it makes little odds. The man is phenomenal. My heart sinks initially when he starts with the old standard “Summertime” but he and his excellent combo (organ, guitar, drums) soon cook up an irresistible groove. I’m not qualified to get all technical about jazz playing but there’s something about Donaldson’s records and his live shows that get me like no other. And with his hangdog face and neat line in crackly patter, he has charisma oozing out his pores and the crowd eating out of what must be a sweaty hand.
I don’t know all the numbers (and the grain and the grape have wiped some of it) but recognise the ballad “Laura” and am delighted to hear “Gravy Train” as I have that CD with me which Lou graciously signs before we leave him in peace. If you come back to London Lou, we’ll be back too. You have been warned my friend.