Lou Donaldson does attempt to loosen up a bit with Mr. Shing-A-Ling, but the whole affair is a bit stilted and mis-conceived. Not quite the full-fledged electric funk workout that was becoming commonplace for old-guard soul-jazz musicians in the late '60s, but not quite the bop-inflected soul-jazz of the early '60s either, Mr. Shing-A-Ling falls into a netherworld that won't connect either with jazz purists or fans of grooving jazz-funk. When the group does try to get funky on the record, the results just sound lazy -- there's no spark to the rhythms, or to Donaldson's melody lines, especially on the embarrassing cover of the pop hit "Ode to Billie Joe." When the quintet settles into a mid-tempo vamp, Donaldson, trumpeter Blue Mitchell and organist Lonnie Smith do spin out some good solos, but the lack of energy and enthusiasm the group has for the material makes Mr. Shing-A-Ling a bit of a tiring listen.
Personnel: Lou Donaldson (alto saxophone); Blue Mitchell (trumpet); Lonnie Smith (organ); Jimmy Ponder (guitar); Idris Muhammad (drums).
01 Ode to Billie Joe
02 The Humpback
03 The Shadow of Your Smile
05 The Kid