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Mike LeDonne: I Love Music

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Mike LeDonne’s Groover Quartet has a talent for finding the jazz groove in pop tunes as well as for striking up a righteous groove on jazz tunes. Together 14 years, the band resembles the classic, soulful Blue Note organ combos of yore with a more recent repertoire-especially hits from the ’70s. Organist-leader LeDonne, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Joe Farnsworth project a committed, appealing and identifiable ensemble sound, and they cut loose with blistering solos.

Some highlights: Gamble and Huff’s title tune, a hit for the O’Jays in 1975, to which LeDonne adds “So What”-like modal harmony to good effect; Stevie Wonder’s “I Love Every Little Thing About You,” with each soloist tapping into the melody at various points in his improvisation; and a slow “Put on a Happy Face” that is broken into standalone blocks of melody-an ingenious arrangement. Another apex is Milt Jackson’s “Blues for Gene” and McCoy Tyner’s “Blues for Ball” (for Messrs. Harris and Adderley, respectively), which bring to mind the down-home Jimmy Smith-Stanley Turrentine-Kenny Burrell days and nights of Blue Note Records. Finally, there’s War’s “The World Is a Ghetto” and a blazing version of Wonder’s “Do I Do” with terrific soloing by Farnsworth.

Originally Published