Greats back at Half Note

Back at the Half Note Jazz Club after stints at the venue in the recent past, Lou Donaldson and Dr Lonnie Smith, a legendary old-school soul-jazz-funk duo on saxophone and Hammond organ respectively, begin a one-week residency at the venue tonight. Donaldson, a high-ranking figure in the history of jazz music, rates as a prominent contributor to the style’s evolution. His early work for the Blue Note label, released between 1952 and 1962, highlighted Donaldson’s impressive mastery of the bebop style. By 1963, when the saxophonist began to record for the Argo label – it was later renamed Cadet – Donaldson had turned his attention to funk, which prompted certain critics and fans to believe that he had sacrificed his creative edge for the demands of commercial success. Later that decade, however, when Donaldson returned to the Half Note record label in 1967, he made a series of recordings over about a decade that merged jazz and funk. In the 1980s, Donaldson refocused on bebop. Besides making his mark on jazz music over the years, the 79-year-old Donaldson has collaborated with numerous other leading acts, among them Milt Jackson, Art Blakey, and Thelonius Monk. The one-week residency’s other main man, Smith, has worked closely with Miles Davis. He was a leading figure in the development of Afro-American music in the 1970s. The two will be joined by Randy Johnston on guitar and Fukushi Tanaka on drums. Half Note Jazz Club, 17 Trivonianou, Mets, tel 210.921.3310.