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Mike LeDonne

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.

In 1988 he started playing with the Milt Jackson Quartet (along with Mickey Roker and Bob Cranshaw). Mr. Jackson recorded Mike’s compositions and arrangements. Mike also became the band’s musical director. In the fall of 1992, Mike was chosen to be part of a group of top young musicians for the Phillip Morris Superband World Tour. Mike served as musical director for that group, which featured Ryan Kisor on trumpet, Joshua Redman on tenor saxophone, Jesse Davis on alto saxophone, Christian McBride on bass and Lewis Nash at the drums. Around this time, Mike toured with the Newport All-Stars in lineups that featured Harry “Sweets” Edison and Clark Terry. Mike has been playing and recording with Benny Golson since 1997. He has also been leading trios that have included greats like Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Billy Hart, Pete LaRoca and Louis Hayes.

Mike is on over 100 CD’s as a sideman and starting in 1988 recorded his first of 16 CD’s as a leader. Five on Criss Cross Jazz, three on Double Time Records, seven on Savant and one on Cellar Live. Many of hem award winning and include the greatest musicians around today including Tom Harrell, Gary Smulyan, Dennis Irwin, Kenny Washington, Steve Nelson, Ryan Kisor, Jim Rotondi, Joshua Redman, Lewis Nash, Peter Washington, Peter Bernstein, Eric Alexander, Jeremy Pelt, Joe Farnsworth, John Webber, Bob Cranshaw, Mickey Roker and Ron Carter.

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19
Album Review

Mike LeDonne: Wonderful!

Read "Wonderful!" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Organist Mike LeDonne's latest recording, Wonderful!, is a labor of love on several levels. Of course, there is love of the music and love of accomplishing something that had not been done before--teaming a gospel choir with jazz quartet. Above all else, there is love for LeDonne's wife, Margaret, and daughter Mary who is disabled but, as LeDonne says, is nonetheless “truly wonderful." LeDonne wrote the album's title song for Mary, wherein he compares her to “a ...

5
Album Review

Mike LeDonne: Wonderful!

Read "Wonderful!" reviewed by Pierre Giroux


In jazz's rich tapestry, where tradition meets innovations, there emerged a convergence exemplified by the present release Wonderful! with the virtuosic Mike LeDonne's Groover Quartet + Gospel Choir, who embark on a transcendent journey into the heart of gospel- infused jazz. The project is informed by LeDonne's desire to offer a heartfelt tribute to his wife Margaret and daughter Mary to showcase the spirited and varied nature of the disability community. Participating in this harmonious affair are the long-time members ...

5
Live Review

The Heavy Hitters Live at Jazz Alley

Read "The Heavy Hitters Live at Jazz Alley" reviewed by Paul Rauch


The Heavy Hitters Jazz Alley Seattle, Washington December 12, 2023 At first glance, this gig's title gives the impression of an all-star lineup of established players running through the changes of straight ahead standards in a friendly setting. There was some semblance of that, with the band boasting an assemblage of individual musicians that certainly can be on the road doing their own thing. But aside from a pair of standard ballads, this band ...

2
Album Review

Mike LeDonne: The Heavy Hitters

Read "The Heavy Hitters" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic


Homing in on the electric, ancestral vibe of Rudy Van Gelder's house of musical myth and magic in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, the Heavy Hitters, spearheaded by journeyman pianist Mike LeDonne and well-traveled saxophonist, Eric Alexander, approach this eponymous debut with a ballsy, brassy, big sounding blueprint which carries through the entire recording. In deciding who best to share Van Gelder's hallowed space with, LeDonne and Alexander brought in the big guns--namely trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, alto saxophonist Vincent ...

5
Album Review

Mike LeDonne: The Heavy Hitters

Read "The Heavy Hitters" reviewed by Pierre Giroux


There was a period back in the middle years of the 20th Century and beyond when All-Star Groups were quite common, including the Buck Clayton All-Stars, Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars, and Gene Harris and the Phillip Morris Superband among several other similar aggregations. In today's musical environment, this kind of coming together of high profile musicians is exceedingly rare, primarily driven by cost issues, although availability of the musicians is also a limiting factor. Pianist & organist Mike LeDonne was ...

40
Album Review

The Heavy Hitters: The Heavy Hitters

Read "The Heavy Hitters" reviewed by Jack Bowers


The Heavy Hitters. Hyperbole? A matter of fact? Or simply the name given by co-leaders Mike LeDonne and Eric Alexander to their newly minted sextet. The third statement is true--but so is the second. From pianist LeDonne and tenor saxophonist Alexander to fellow front-liners Jeremy Pelt (trumpet) and Vincent Herring (alto sax) and the Washingtons, Peter on bass and Kenny at the drums, these gentlemen are by any measure heavy hitters. Their first album as a unit ...

6
Album Review

The Heavy Hitters: Heavy Hitters

Read "Heavy Hitters" reviewed by Troy Dostert


The self-titled debut from the Heavy Hitters, pianist Mike LeDonne's latest sextet, has the feel of a tribute album. However, unlike most recordings of that nature, there is no classic repertoire present, as all nine tracks are penned either by LeDonne or his colleague, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander. Instead, it is a tribute to a sound that LeDonne and partners are aiming for: in this case, that of the iconic Blue Note label's 1950s-60s period, when artists such as Freddie ...

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Recording

Mike LeDonne: Wonderful!

Mike LeDonne: Wonderful!

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Mike LeDonne is a bad-ass. I thought of five different ways to say this more elegantly but I kept coming back to the same phrase. Mike, whose mastery of the Hammond B3 organ is legendary, takes the instrument's sound up a notch on his new album, Wonderful! (Cellar), by enlisting an 11-member non-denominational gospel choir. The sound I'm talking about is jazz in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mike and I are the same age—67. In fact, I'm about ...

1

Recording

Mike LeDonne: It's All Your Fault

Mike LeDonne: It's All Your Fault

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Mike LeDonne is one funky organist. Three cups of Charles Earland, two tablespoons of Jimmy McGriff with liberal dashes of Don Patterson. Then cook. Mike's Philly sound is always groovy and driving but not overdone. That's the thing about organ albums. You have to know when it's enough, and Mike knows. The beauty of his music is that it respects tradition and drips with '70s swagger. Mike's latest is It's All Your Fault (Savant). Recorded in February 2020, just weeks ...

Event

Mike LeDonne: From the Heart

Mike LeDonne: From the Heart

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Mike LeDonne knocks me out. He's one of the only organists around today who fully grasps the 1970s soul-jazz idiom. Back then, there were seriously groovy Hammond players such as Leon Spencer Jr., Johnny “Hammond" Smith, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Sonny Phillips, Charles Kynard, Charles Earland and Don Patterson, among others. All you had to do was add guys like tenor saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr., trumpeter Vigil Jones, guitarist Melvin Sparks, drummer Idris Muhammad and conga player Buddy Caldwell, ...

Recording

Mike LeDonne: That Feelin'

Mike LeDonne: That Feelin'

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

I've long been a secret fan of organist Mike Le Donne. I say secret because he doesn't know (yet). I began listening to jazz in the early 1970s by collecting exciting organ combo albums. I still love Hammondites Don Patterson, Shirley Scott, Leon Spencer Jr., Charles Earland and Brother Jack McDuff. Add Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Stanley Turrentine or Grover Washington Jr. to the session and I'm all in. To this day, the sound knocks me out if done right. ...

150

Recording

Mike Ledonne - Keep the Faith (Savant Records, 2011)

Mike Ledonne - Keep the Faith (Savant Records, 2011)

Source: Music and More by Tim Niland

Organist and pianist Mike LeDonne (excellent interview here) has proven himself in a number of mainstream jazz situations, both as a leader and as a sideman. On this occasion he sticks to the Hammond B-3 Organ, accompanied by a fine coterie of musicians: Eric Alexander on tenor saxophone, Peter Bernstein on guitar and Joe Farnsworth on drums. Subtitled “The Groover Quartet" on the album cover, this certainly lays down the path that these musicians chose for this album. The chose ...

156

Performance / Tour

NYC Organist Mike LeDonne at Tula's This Thursday

NYC Organist Mike LeDonne at Tula's This Thursday

Source: Seattle Jazz Scene

Mike LeDonne stops at Tulas Jazz Club on his way up to Vancouver later this month. The New York-based organist will be joined by Portland guitarist Dan Balmer and Matt Jorgensen on drums.

LeDonne has been a long-time regular on the jazz scene and has backed up artists such as Benny Golson, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Stanley Turrentine, Charles McPherson, Sonny Rollins, Milt Jackson, Art Farmer, Clifford Jordan and more.

THURSDAY, MARCH 25 - MIKE LeDONNE TULAS JAZZ ...

105

Performance / Tour

NYC Organist Mike Ledonne at Tula's - March 25

NYC Organist Mike Ledonne at Tula's - March 25

Source: Seattle Jazz Scene

Mike LeDonne stops at Tulas Jazz Club on his way up to Vancouver later this month. The New York-based organist will be joined by Portland guitarist Dan Balmer and Matt Jorgensen on drums.

LeDonne has been a long-time regular on the jazz scene and has backed up artists such as Benny Golson, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Stanley Turrentine, Charles McPherson, Sonny Rollins, Milt Jackson, Art Farmer, Clifford Jordan and more.

THURSDAY, MARCH 25 - MIKE LeDONNE TULAS JAZZ ...

144

Performance / Tour

Mike Ledonne Quintet Live at the Jazz Standard in New York

Mike Ledonne Quintet Live at the Jazz Standard in New York

Source: Two for the Show Media

Pianist/Composer Mike LeDonne will be performing with his Quintet at The Jazz Standard in NYC on Tuesday September 16th, 2008 and Wednesday September 17th, 2008 Set Times: 7:30pm and 9:30pm Mike LeDonne Quintet: Eric Alexander - tenor saxophone Jeremy Pelt - trumpet Mike LeDonne - piano John Webber - bass Joe Farnsworth - drums Mike LeDonne is not only an exceptional musician in his own right, but a living link ...

Dave Mattock
organ, Hammond B3

Photos

Concerts

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Wonderful!

Cellar Music Group
2024

buy

Heavy Hitters

Cellar Music Group
2023

buy

The Heavy Hitters

Cellar Records
2023

buy

Blues on Top

Self Produced
2022

buy

Thank You John: Our...

Arkadia Records
2022

buy

The Stars of Jazz #2

Arkadia Records
2022

buy

Videos

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