Lou Donaldson

At His Best

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The title At His Best portends some kind of career overview, but in fact it's an all new session heralding the end of Lou Donaldson's tenure with the Cadet label. Moreover, it comes nowhere close to capturing the saxophonist at his most potent, settling for a rigid, disappointingly straightforward soul-jazz approach with few sparks of energy. Despite an intriguing cast of characters including organist Billy Gardner, trumpeter Bill Hardman, guitarist Calvin Newborn, and the great drummer Grady Tate, the music is less than the sum of its parts. Gardner is nevertheless at the peak of his immense talents, proving himself a worthy successor to longtime Donaldson foil Big John Patton.

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