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The Heavy Hitters: The Heavy Hitters

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The Heavy Hitters: The Heavy Hitters
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 is, on the one hand, a salute to the legendary players who led the way and serve as their inspiration, and, on the other, a fond remembrance of the memorable Blue Note sessions of the 1950s and '60s, especially those spawned at Rudy van Gelder's unrivaled studio, where The Heavy Hitters was recorded in May 2022. LeDonne wrote the first four and last two of the album's nine original compositions, Alexander the three that are sandwiched between them.

LeDonne's lively opener, "Hub," honors one of his trumpet heroes, the late Freddie Hubbard. He later pays his respects to pianists Horace Silver ("Silverdust") and Cedar Walton ("Cedar Land"), while Alexander's warm- hearted ballad, "Big Richard" (on which he plays alto), eulogizes his father who died in 2017. The other numbers, though not as nominally specific, are steeped in the remarkable Blue Note tradition. They include LeDonne's melodious "New Day," hard bop-flavored "Una Dia es un Dia" and straight-on "Bluesit," Alexander's swaggering "This Is Something New" (based on a chord progression by George Coleman) and angular "Chainsaw," on which guitarist Rale Micic makes it a septet.

As noted, these are heavy hitters who always swing for the fences and seldom come up short. Alexander, for one, is among the premier soloists on the scene, while Pelt and Herring are only a swing or less off the pace, and LeDonne, whether soloing or comping, is unerring. As for the Washingtons, they may as well be metronomes. Even though the most formidable blows in this pastime fall a few steps short of producing any grand slams, The Heavy Hitters comprise a stalwart team whose skillfulness and consistency are hard to beat.

Track Listing

Hub; New Day; Silverdust; Una Dia es un Dia; Big Richard; Chainsaw; This Is Something New; Cedar Land; Bluesit.

Personnel

Eric Alexander
saxophone, tenor
Mike LeDonne
organ, Hammond B3
Jeremy Pelt
trumpet
Vincent Herring
saxophone
Rale Micic
guitar

Album information

Title: The Heavy Hitters | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Cellar Records


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