Mike LeDonne Groover Quartet + Gospel Choir – Wonderful! – Cellar Music

by | Mar 25, 2024 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Wonderful!…Yes, it is…

Mike LeDonne Groover Quartet + Gospel Choir – Wonderful! – Cellar Music #CMO32323 – 56:01 – ****

(Mike LeDonne – Hammond B3 organ; Eric Alexander – tenor saxophone; Peter Bernstein – guitar; Joe Farnsworth – drums; Daniel Sadownick – percussion on “Let Us Go,” and “Put It Back” – Vincent Herring – alto sax on “Let Us Go” –  & Gospel Choir: Aisha de Haas, Audrey Martells, Carolyn Leonhart, Everett Bradley, Keith Anthony Fluitt, Jamie Leonhart, Jamile, JD Walter, John James, La Tanya Hall, Tanesha Gary)

Mike LeDonne and his Groover Quartet have been on the scene for over twenty years with at least seven prior releases. It’s been a fun project for Mike, as he is also a premier pianist. But with a love for the Hammond B3 organ, and its intoxicating groove, and playing with fellow band mates, saxophonist, Eric Alexander, guitarist Peter Bernstein, and drummer, Joe Farnsworth, has been an opportunity to both jam at local NYC clubs, and record occasionally. Each member has their own individual projects, but the chance to explore their love of gospel, blues, and jazz can’t be beat.

Their latest release, Wonderful!, is something special. It’s the first known recording of a Hammond B3 led group, backed by a gospel choir. It’s a “natural pairing,” as what makes more sense than a choir backing the soulful grooves found in a Sunday morning gospel church service. 

An accompanying theme for Mike is the inspiration he has found leading the NYC disability community with the Disability Pride Parade in New York City. Mike and his wife, Margaret, have a daughter, Mary, (whose photo adorns the front cover of this CD), with special needs, and the non-profit organization they founded helps celebrate and honor the diverse nature of this community. It’s a labor of love, and the joy of the choir backing the quartet is  inspiring.

Whether it’s the gospel refrain from the eleven person choir exclaiming “Let Us Go,” or “Put It Back,” or the quartet putting their take on Paul Simon’s classic “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” or Ashford and Simpson’s “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” you’d need heavy weights to keep your feet from tapping or your head from ‘noddin. I especially loved the quartet’s version of John Coltrane’s “Lonnie’s Lament.”

Eric Alexander is at his funkiest best, and Peter Bernstein’s tasty guitar licks keep the soulful stew at a bubble, but it’s Mr. LeDonne’s churning Hammond B3 that highlights this release. And the gospel choir’s vocals help the proceedings reach for the heavens. Amen to that…

—Jeff Krow

Let us Go
Lonnie’s Lament
Twinkies Organ Prelude/Wonderful
Put It Back
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing
Make Someone Happy

More information through Bandcamp

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Album Cover for Mike LeDonne Grooverf Quartet - Wonderful


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