|Recorded at Studio 44, Monster, Holland, July 10,1986.
DOROTHY DONEGAN, she can't be missed when she is on stage, never a dull moment, power, energy! An older woman at the piano who is able to driver her audience to madness. It is possible because she is a good showman and a real entertainer ideal for concerts in little music-halls and bars like the bar where this recording was made, the Widder Bar in Swiss Zurich, where she gave an enthusiast concert in 1986. Dorothy Donegan was born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 6, 1924.
She studied at the Chicago Conservatory and the Chicago Music College and got a firm classical training. Her first job however was not at the piano but as a church organist. In 1942 she was in the recording studios in Chicago to record Chopin's 'Minute Waltz' and Rachmaninoff's 'Prelude In C Sharp Minor'. That was on January 23, 1942. At that same day she recorded 'Piano Boogie' and 'Everyday Blues' and there we have Dorothy Donegan in a nutshell: Rachmaninoff- Boogie Woogie -Jazz - Blues - Cocktail Music. In the early fourties she worked on the West Coast of the USA, mainly as a cocktail-piano-player. In I 944 she took part in the movie 'Sensations Of 1945'. She recorded for Bluebird, Continental, Jubilee, Capitol and Roulette mostly as a soloist, sometimes with a trio. In her repertoire a lot of Boogie Woogie (there is even an LP titled 'Schubert's Boogie Woogie.,.) and ever greens. She had a hit peak in the fifties with tunes like 'Lover', Tea For Two' and 'Bye Bye Blackbird'. When asked for her piano-favorites she gave the names of Art Tatum and... Vladimir Horowitz. Listening to this Widder Bar-recording we also meet the rent-party pianists, Erroll Garner, Dave Brubeck and even Joe Albany. In general her style is strong, muscular, uninhibited, facile with a swinging beat, full of energy, from time to time really messy, jumpy, full of humor, careless and sometimes with a charming lack of taste but always with an excellent chord construction. She is able to play a beautiful ballad (say half a chorus) and then suddenly rushes into a violent Boogie Woogie, a flirt with a classical theme and the murder of an evergreen. It is all possible. She walks around the piano, talks to the audience, jumps up and down at the piano-chair, in one word a show-woman. A performance at the Nice Jazz Festival in 1975 brought about her breakthrough in Europe. She was able to get an audience of more than a thousand people in a state of swinging excitement. A German critic once called her a 'Brullendes Monster', another named her The most vital appearance behind a piano ever', the New York Times went a bit to far in calling her 'World's greatest jazz-pianist playing today'. I rather keep it to her nickname 'Lady Dynamite'. Yes, that's she Dorothy Donegan, the explosive, LADY DYNAMITE!
Wim van Eyle.