Mike LeDonne – AwwRight! – Savant SCD2148, 55:55 ****:
(Mike LeDonne – Hammond B-3 organ; Eric Alexander – tenor sax; Peter Bernstein – guitar; Joe Farnsworth – drums; special guests: Bob Cranshaw – bass (#1, 5); Jeremy Pelt – trumpet (#1, 5, & 8)
Oh, the joys of New York jazz. If you can put up with the hassles (and expense) of living in New York City, then the potpourri of jazz offerings is staggering. On a Tuesday night, normally a very slow night for jazz headliners, one can make their way to Smoke, a night club whose offerings range from mainstream to avant. Come Tuesday, however, its a night to celebrate the groove with Mike LeDonne’s Groover Quartet. Who better to help knock it out of the ball park than band mates, Eric Alexander, Peter Bernstein, and Joe Farnsworth? Each can and does lead their own groups, but if not on tour they can be found over the last 15 years on the stage at Smoke with LeDonne adding to the mellifluous hang.
The quartet knows each other like brothers, having developed their simpatico over many years. New songs can be explored over many sets in front of appreciative audiences who know they are lucky to have gained seats in the small club. Tourists who love B-3 organ quartets can plan their vacations and make sure they know where to be on a Tuesday night.
To sweeten the pot for this Savant Records studio-recorded issue (LeDonne began recording for the label in 2003, and this being his eighth issue for Savant), the iconic bassist Bob Cranshaw is added for the title track and “Hadley Joe” and the firebrand trumpeter, Jeremy Pelt, plays on those two tracks, plus Stanley Turrentine’s “Let It Go.” Putting Pelt on the front line with Eric Alexander amps up a Hammond led session several notches.
The title track was written by Mike with the thought of Bob Cranshaw in mind and Bob puts his touch on the saying as the song finishes. I love the inclusion of soul tunes on B-3-led sessions and Mike has three tracks here that get the organ treatment – The Spinners’ “Love Don’t Love Nobody,” Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful” and “Never Can Say Goodbye” which is given a hard bop treatment.
Mike LeDonne is also a first call pianist and has many piano CDs to check out, but if its Tuesday in the Big Apple it’s your chance to explore the Hammond B-3 groove with Mike and the gang…
TrackList: AwwRight!, Love Don’t Love Nobody, Never Can Say Goodbye, The Boss, Let It Go, Mary Lou’s Blues, You Are So Beautiful, Hadley Joe