Album review

Mike LeDonne – ‘It’s All Your Fault’

Mike LeDonne (with The Groover Quartet + Big Band) – It’s All Your Fault

(Savant Records SCD 2183. Album review by David di Nota)

Q. Anything new in bop? A. Mike LeDonne.

The unabashed exuberance of pianist/organist Mike LeDonne, the one-time Savoy Sultan, has struck again. He is flanked here by superb saxophonist Eric Alexander and an impressive collection of stars who summon up a kind of enthusiasm which feels as youthful as it is communicative. We find Jon Faddis and Jim Snidero, Peter Bernstein and Joe Magnarelli (these four are part of an exceptional Big Band).

LeDonne absolutely gives it his all. It’s Your Fault offers us eight masterpieces, both originals and standards such as Lee Morgan’s wonderful Party Time. Even more than Jimmy Smith, whom LeDonne’s talent inevitably brings to mind (*), the spirit of Lee Morgan blows is everywhere here, sometimes illuminating the ironic arabesques of Matador or the muted chords of Blues for Jed – even if Mike LeDonne’s very individual touch never disappears. This is, in other words, anything but a sterile tribute to the 60s. This is an album which reinvigorates bop through and through.

When an artist who is at the top of his game is also on top of the groove, there’s only one thing left to do: to thank Savant Records and the seventeen artists for this moment of pure joy.

(*) The album was recorded at Van Gelder Studios using the original Hammond C-3 organ played there by Jimmy Smith

David di Nota is a French writer based in London. His original French text is below.

It’s All Your Fault”,by David di Nota

Quoi de neuf question bop ? Mike LeDonne.

L’exubérance décomplexée du Savoy Sultan a encore frappé. Entouré du génial saxophoniste Eric Alexander et d’une collection impressionnante de stars à l’enthousiasme aussi juvénil que communicatif, de Jon Faddis à à Jim Snidero, de Peter Bernstein à Joe Magnarelli (le tout formant un Big Band d’exception), le pianiste et organiste LeDonne s’en donne à coeur joie. “It’s your fault” nous propose huit chef-d’oeuvres, compositions personnelles ou reprises, comme le merveilleux Party Time de Lee Morgan. Plus encore que Jimmy Smith auquel le talent de LeDonne fait immanquablement penser, l’esprit de Lee Morgan souffle où il veut ici, illuminant tantôt les arabesques ironiques de “Matador” ou les accords en sourdine de “Blues for Jed” – même si la touche si individuelle de Mike LeDonne ne disparaît jamais. En lieu et place d’un hommage stérile aux années 60, cet album revigore le bop de fond en comble.

Quand un artiste au sommet de son art est en même temps au sommet du groove, il ne reste qu’une chose à faire : remercier Savant Records et les 17 artistes pour ce pur moment de bonheur.

Mike LeDonne’s Big Band

Organ: Mike LeDonne

Alto saxophones:  Steve Wilson, Jim Snidero

Tenor saxophones: Eric Alexander, Scott Robinson

Baritone saxophone: Jason Marshall

Trumpets: Jon Faddis, Frank Greene, Joe Magnarelli, Joshua Bruneau

Trombones: Mark Patterson, Steve Davis, Dion Tucker, Doug Purviance

Bass: John Webber

Guitar: Peter Bernstein

Drums: Joe Farnsworth

Arranged and conducted by Dennis Mackrel

Mike LeDonne’s Groover Quartet

Organ: Mike LeDonne

Tenor saxophone: Eric Alexander

Guitar: Peter Bernstein

Drums: Joe Farnsworth

LINK: It’s All Your Fault is distributed by Proper

Categories: Album review

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