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Bebop - Released May 15, 2018 | Savant

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Bebop - Released August 29, 2006 | Savant

Organist Mike LeDonne has built upon the tradition of soul-jazz organ/tenor sax combos of the 1960s and 1970s on this delightful CD that was recorded at Smoke in New York City. Joined by tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander and guitarist Peter Bernstein (both of whom worked extensively in similar groups), along with drummer Joe Farnsworth, LeDonne gets things going with an extended workout of the Spinners' "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" that allows for plenty of fine blowing. The late organist Charles Earland provides plenty of fireworks, while Duke Pearson's bittersweet "Idle Moments" is drenched in emotion in a slow, tantalizing rendition. LeDonne's "Prayer for Mary" is dedicated to his young daughter, who experienced a difficult birth and suffers from a rare medical condition. The introduction reveals the composer's anxiety at the time, while the body of the piece turns uptempo and reflects a spiritual influence, with his chords providing the congregational response to the sermons by Bernstein and Alexander in turn. The guitarist's slow, sassy blues "Bones" also merits strong praise. Recommended. ~ Ken Dryden
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Bebop - Released May 5, 2015 | Savant

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Bebop - Released February 16, 2010 | Savant

Since establishing himself as a fine modern mainstream jazz pianist, Mike LeDonne has been working more on the Hammond B-3 organ, for both a steady gig in New York City, and recordings that reflect both his love for bop and soul-jazz. The Groover alternates tracks between these two idioms, showing off his impressive chops and his interest in slowing things down to a simmering and more commercially based contemporary music. With top-notch tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, guitarist Peter Bernstein, and drummer Joe Farnsworth, LeDonne has a dream team of experienced peers to jam with, and they swing hard when called upon. On the originals "Blues for McCoy" and "Bopsolete," LeDonne is furiously flying across his keyboard, while in the spirit of Charles Earland, he renders pop tunes like Michael Jackson's "Rock with You" and the old Supremes/Temptations hit "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" with the same dexterity and wit. Benny Golson's "Little Mary" ups the blues quotient, while the remainder of the program balances ballads with more straight-ahead material. There's substance and depth in LeDonne's musicality while avoiding overt funk, making for a pleasing program that mainstream jazz lovers and baby boomers can embrace. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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Bebop - Released May 20, 2014 | Savant

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Bebop - Released August 15, 2008 | Savant

Mike LeDonne has made a name for himself as a top-notch organist, though he has chops to burn on piano as well, the latter being his sole instrument on these performances recorded over two nights at Smoke in the fall of 2007. Joining him are some of his regular collaborators, including tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander and drummer Joe Farnsworth, along with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and bassist Jon Webber to round out this excellent group. The pianist's fiery "Encounter" is built upon the chord changes to "Love for Sale," which even incorporates a bit of salsa in the midst of its uptempo post-bop structure, with plenty of potent solos all around. The soft, swinging groove of Pelt's "Good Times" is highlighted by his tasty muted horn and Webber's short, effective solo. LeDonne finds a fresh approach to Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca" by altering the rhythm a bit in the introduction, playing call and response between the piano and horns, then setting the tempo afire as Alexander blazes a new trail. The pianist also disguises "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)" with an impressionistic, crystalline solo introduction before adding the rhythm section in his masterful arrangement of this timeless, bittersweet ballad by Duke Ellington. The quintet signs off with a bluesy, strutting treatment of Cedar Walton's "Bleeker Street," no doubt leaving every patron satisfied with their evening's work. ~ Ken Dryden
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Bebop - Released August 23, 2011 | Savant

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Bebop - Released April 6, 2004 | Savant

Mike LeDonne, who is better known as a pianist, is also a talented organist in the Jimmy Smith/Charles Earland/Don Patterson tradition. His quartet set is straight-ahead hard bop rather than soul-jazz, with excellent solos from LeDonne, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, and guitarist Peter Bernstein (who is particularly strong on "Delilah") and fine support from drummer Joe Farnsworth. Most memorable are a pair of medium-tempo blues ("You'll See" and "Pisces Soul"), "Silverdust" (which is based partly on the chord changes of "King Porter Stomp"), and a cooking version of "Close to You." Although nothing innovative or overly surprising occurs, the music is well played and Alexander in particular has plenty of spirited solos. ~ Scott Yanow
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Bebop - Released October 14, 2016 | Savant

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Bebop - Released September 13, 2005 | Savant

Pianist Mike LeDonne, whose main influence is McCoy Tyner, mostly sounds pretty original throughout this swinging trio set. Teamed with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Joe Farnsworth, LeDonne contributes two originals and comes up with fresh variations on a variety of jazz standards. Among the highlights are LeDonne's "JB," John Coltrane's "After the Rain" (which is not recorded very often), "I Should Care," and "Alone Together." While Carter and Farnsworth get their spots to solo, Mike LeDonne is the main star throughout and is heard in prime form. Recommended. ~ Scott Yanow