50 Jazz Blues Licks: #5 Lou Donaldson IV-I on “The Thang”

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50 Jazz Blues Licks is an exclusive series of video guitar lessons by David Hamburger covering the jazz blues styles of historically great guitarists like Geoge Benson, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, and many others. A new lick will be released each week, so be sure to subscribe and check back often!

Lou Donaldson“If you can’t play the blues, you can’t play no jazz, I don’t care who it is or how much you study.” So says Lou Donaldson, who takes time off from his alto in this clip to tell a few racy jokes and sing “Whiskey Drinking Woman” while the regally beturbaned Lonnie Smith keeps it cooking behind him. Smith himself has been playing the blues and a whole lot else ever since he was featured on some of the first George Benson records in the mid-Sixties. After making his own first record as a leader with both Benson and Melvin Sparks on guitar, Smith signed to Blue Note, in part at the behest of Donaldson. These days, with fellow originators like Jimmy Smith, Richard “Groove” Holmes and Jack McDuff no longer around, Lonnie Smith officially falls into the category of Elder Statesman, a situation only accented by his Sikh turban and possibly self-bestowed honorific “Doctor.” But when a guy can play like this, I say, let him call himself whatever he wants. Meanwhile, we have another IV-I lick from the bluesy, bebopping Donaldson to consider.

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If you like these guitar lessons, be sure to also check out Frank Vignola’s Jazz Up Your Blues, which showcases essential jazz blues vocabulary and techniques, Mark Stefani’s Jazzed Blues Assembly Lines, which takes you on a sonic learning tour through the funky rhythm and blues stylings and fretboard concepts of top jazz blues players, and of course all of David Hamburger’s courses.



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