Art Works Blog

Art Works Podcast: Lou Donaldson

In this week's podcast, we meet a member of the 2013 class of NEA Jazz Masters: alto saxophonist, Lou Donaldson. For over 60 years, Donaldson has played a swinging bebop---combining elements of bop with a soulful sound that is absolutely his own. It's a style of playing that earned him the nickname "Sweet Poppa Lou." In 1952, Alfred Lion and Frank Wolf signed Donaldson to their record label, Blue Note, where his early recordings were some of the first in the hard bop genre. It was a good fit, and Donaldson stayed with the label for 11 years. He was known for showcasing many musicians who cut their first records with him, including pianist and NEA Jazz Master Horace Silver and trumpeter Clifford Brown. In 1954, Blue Note put together a recording session with Donaldson, Silver, Brown, Art Blakey, also an NEA Jazz Master, and Tommy Potter. The result became the great jazz album, A Night in Birdland, which many still consider one of the best live jazz recordings of all time. But Donaldson's soulful side merged easily, if unexpectedly, with a bop sensibility. Nowhere is that bluesy bop style more apparent than in his signature song, "Blues Walk."

On January 14, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. ET, we will be live-streaming the 2013 NEA Jazz Master Ceremony and Concert. Please join us for our webcast, or click here for more information about the NEA Jazz Masters program and this year's class of honorees.

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