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    JazzWax List: Lou's Organists

    JazzWax List: Lou's OrganistsLou Donaldson was one of the first alto saxophonists to Lou Donaldson Torso Shot perform and record consistently with a Hammond B3 behind him. He used the sound extensively on the road in the '50s while touring across the country and developed a new jazz-funk approach in the '60s. Here's a list of the groovy organists who have recorded with him over the years. Dates signify their first recording session:

    Tony Bennett, San Francisco and Me

    JazzWaxA week before Christmas I was in San Screen shot 2011-01-11 at 4.40.28 PM Francisco to interview Orrin Keepnews for the Wall Street Journal. While I was there, I stayed overnight at the Fairmont, which has to be the city's most stately and grand hotel. Perched high atop Nob Hill overlooking the city and bay, the Fairmont opened in 1907 and has been restored to its original grandeur. Of all the hotels I've checked into in the U.S., the Fairmont ranks at the very top in terms of service, attention to detail, concierge smarts and panoramic views. But for music fans, the hotel is famous for another reason.

    Alvino Rey: Studio Band, 1946

    JazzWaxIt's tough to get a fix on Alvino Rey. Many people Rey-studio-shot-of-Alvino-Rey-520 who are remotely familiar with the big bands of the 1940s think of the steel-guitar playing Rey as a novelty act. He wasn't. Given the enormous size of his orchestras, many assume Rey led a Mickey Mouse band. He didn't. His name wasn't even Alvino Rey—it was Al McBurney. He had changed it in 1929 to catch the rumba craze. He even disliked Hawaiian music—despite his steel guitar's "Island" sound.

    Hal McKusick in 1956


    ImageSaxophonist Hal McKusick is on some of the finest New York recording sessions of the '50s. His reputation for reading music perfectly the first time, no matter how complex, spread quickly among fellow musicians and those in charge of assembling them for recordings. Hal could always be counted on to swing, lead a big-band reed section and deliver smooth solos. It also helped that Hal was a supremely confident player, a virtuoso on virtually every reed and woodwind instrument, and as easy-going as a June breeze.

    Bill Evans and Joe Puma


    JazzWaxBefore he began recording exclusively as leader of a working trio, pianist Bill Evans was a prolific sideman. Between 1954 and 1958, Evans appeared on more than 20 recordings led by other artists. Except for New Jazz Conceptions, his first one-off trio date for Riverside in 1956, Evans was a top keyboard gun for hire in New York. One of those dates in 1957 was accompanying guitarist Joe Puma on an album called Joe Puma: Jazz. Unfortunately, the quartet with Evans recorded just three tracks for Jubilee, most likely to fill out Puma's original studio obligation that used a trio.

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