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Makin' Whoopee (1979) [The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions]

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Album Review

Dorothy Donegan was a virtuoso pianist who dazzled fellow players while she made the rounds with Art Tatum. Whether in the studio or on-stage, Donegan never hesitated to show off her chops, though her abrasive personality may have contributed to a lack of recognition until late in her career. These recordings were made in 1979 for Black & Blue in France, showcasing her exclusively as a solo pianist. She demonstrates her stride chops in a wailing "Lullaby in Rhythm," while her inventive bassline and unusual rhythmic approach to "You Go to My Head" is dazzling. Not just an interpreter of standards, her remarkable arrangement of the Beatles' "Yesterday" gives it a gospel flavor, while incorporating the blues as well. A pair of her originals, "Tonky Honk" (obvious derived from the popular song "Alley Cat") and "Goodbye Blues" (adapted from the well-known "Bye Bye Blues"), prove to be a little disappointing, considering her potential. Better is her bluesy, swinging instrumental "I Just Want to Sing." This is easily one of Dorothy Donegan's best overall releases.


Born: April 6, 1922 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

A brilliant virtuoso, Dorothy Donegan constantly switched between boogie-woogie, bop, stride, Art Tatum-style swing, and classical music, sometimes in the same chorus. In concert, she often put together spontaneous medleys of unrelated songs and was never shy to dance while she played. She studied at the Chicago Conservatory and Chicago Music College and made her recording debut in 1942. Donegan made a sensational appearance in the film Sensations of 1945 but never caught on that big despite her...
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Makin' Whoopee (1979) [The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions], Dorothy Donegan
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