It's probably just as well that only a few people showed up for Lou Donaldson's opening set at the Ibex club last night. As it was, most of those who attended the early show left well before the alto saxophonist reached the stage. Apparently a misunderstanding caused Donaldson to miss his opening set and the resulting two-hour wait proved a bit much for most listeners.
The faithful, however, were eventually rewarded with a solid performance in which jazz standards predominated. "Stella by Starlight" burned brightly, sparked by Donaldson's incandescent tone and pianist Herman Foster's sheer exuberance. Foster then gathered thick, tumbling clusters of chords on "Blues Walk." The combination of his two-fisted approach, Peck Morrison's resounding bass, and the saxophonist's earthy inflections closely resembled the R&B flavor of Donaldson's previous organ-based bands.
The pace quickened with "The Best Things in Life Are Free." Donaldson used the melody to launch a blistering chorus and later traded rapid-fire exchanges with drummer Nat Yarbrough before returning to the theme. By including a couple of worthy tributes to Charlie Parker and Erroll Garner, Donaldson clearly made those who stayed glad they did.
The quartet appears at the Ibex through Saturday.