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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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I Love Music




Blues for Gene

I Love Every Little Thing About You

I Love Music

Put on a Happy Face

Blues for a Ball

The World is a Ghetto

Do I Do

Mike LeDonne (B-3 organ); Eric Alexander (tenor sax); Peter Bernstein (guitar): Joe Farnsworth (drums)

Recorded July 2013, Trading 8s Recording Studio, Paramus, NJ

SAVANT SCD2135 [53:34]

How positive do you feel about the Hammond B-3 organ? How much do you like Jimmy Smith? Straight ahead Blues workouts in an organ quartet sound good to you? If you answer ‘yes, a lot’ to these three questions, then welcome to Mike LeDonne’s thoroughly road-tested and flame-grilled combo. Prepare to enjoy that Smith groove, and to enjoy an ethos reminiscent, aurally speaking, of Rudy van Gelder’s studio. In Trading 8s studio in NYC back in July 2013 the band and set down seven first-take tracks. I said this was a road-tested organisation.

But this isn’t a one-man band. It’s been together for over a decade. And LeDonne, a pianist as well as organist, has long since absorbed his influences and emerged as very much his own man. LeDonne has with him some solidly swinging citizens: Peter Bernstein takes fine guitar solos – on Blues for Gene excellently – and drummer Joe Farnsworth facilitates straight-ahead or loping swing. Hear his unobtrusive pulse throughout but try his work on Stevie Wonder’s I Love Every Little Thing should you remain unconvinced. Much the longest cut is I Love Music with some fiery Hammond from the leader and a taut drum solo. On McCoy Tyner’s swinger, Blues for Ball, we can enjoy tenor player Eric Alexander who takes a conspicuously good solo but The World is a Ghetto witnesses equally satisfying exchanges between tenor and organ with the tension building like a pressure cooker. The mighty swing of the last track, Do I Do, ends a rousing, technically excellent and thoroughly enjoyable disc. Arrangements are thoughtful, supple, lines are often surprisingly allusive, but always alive and swinging. Ensemble rapport is absolute. They can really swing in the studio, so catch them in the flesh if you get the chance. You won’t be disappointed.

Jonathan Woolf

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