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Lou Donaldson

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Lou Donaldson (November 1, 1926) is a alto saxophonist, born in Badin, North Carolina. He is best known for his soulful, bluesy approach to the alto , although in his formative years he was, as many were of the era, heavily influenced by Charlie Parker.

Donaldson attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro in the early 1940s. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was trained at the Great Lakes bases in Chicago, where he was introduced to bop music in the lively club scene there. At the war’s conclusion, he returned to Greensboro, where he worked club dates with the Rhythm Vets, a combo composed of A and T students who had served in the U.S. Navy. The band recorded the soundtrack to a musical comedy featurette, “Pitch a Boogie Woogie,” in Greenville, North Carolina, in the summer of 1947. The movie had a limited run at black audience theatres in 1948 but its production company, Lord-Warner Pictures, folded and never made another film. “Pitch a Boogie Woogie” was subsequently restored by the American Film Institute in 1985 and re-premiered on the campus of East Carolina University in Greenville the following year. Donaldson and the surviving members of the Vets performed a reunion concert after the film’s showing.

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