Pianist Mike LeDonne started playing piano at the age of 5 and was raised in his parent’s music store. By the age of 10 his father, a jazz guitarist, began booking him on gigs. He is now an internationally renowned pianist and organist with the unique experience of having played with a wide spectrum of jazz masters from Benny Goodman to Milt Jackson and Sonny Rollins. He has won praise not only from critics but from master musicians: Oscar Peterson picked him as one of his favorite pianists of today.
At age 21, Mike graduated from New England Conservatory in 1979 and moved to New York City with the Widespread Jazz Orchestra. In 1981, he left Widespread to travel to the UK with Panama Francis and the Savoy Sultans. On returning, he began a two-year stint as the house pianist at Jimmy Ryan’s, then one of New York’ s oldest jazz clubs. It was there that he came under the influence of and played with many old masters such as Roy Eldridge, Papa Jo Jones and Vic Dickenson. He spent 1982-1983 with the Benny Goodman sextet and went on to play with Buddy Tate, Al Grey, Ruby Braff and many others. Later he worked 1 year with the Art Farmer-Clifford Jordan Quintet, went to Paris with Grady Tate, and played with more modern masters like James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Stanley Turrentine, Charles McPherson, Sonny Rollins and Bobby Hutcherson. He also spent time as accompanist to singers Ernestine Anderson, Annie Ross and Etta Jones.