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Mike LeDonne: Wonderful!

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Mike LeDonne: Wonderful!
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 of the Quartet, including tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Joe Farnsworth, with special guests Daniel Sadownick on percussion and Vincent Herring on alto saxophone plus an eleven-voice gospel choir.

The session opens with the gospel song "Let Us Go," and it is a barn burner from the opening notes. Filled with an uplifting, joyful spirit emanating from the choir's voices, the quartet, enhanced by Sadownick and Herring, picks up a fiery groove that elevates with a sense of spiritual resonance. The John Coltrane composition "Lonnie's Lament" was recorded in 1964 with his Quartet for an album entitled Crescent at the same Van Gelder Recording Studio as this release. With his clear-eyed approach, the expressive tenor player Alexander is at the forefront of this chart. LeDonne and Bernstein play their part in bringing this broad-based canvas to life.

The title track, "Wonderful," is paired with "Twinkies Organ Prelude," which brings the meditative choir and the meticulously flowing sound of the quartet together in the pleasure of the music. The gospel choir continues their assertive and open-minded approach with two popular songs: Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and the Ashford & Simpson number "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing." Farnsworth's intense shuffle drumming sets up the former as Bernstein, LeDonne and Alexander each show a head-long but intelligent approach to improvisation. The latter swings along at a striking clip, with LeDonne and the quartet showing they are a briskly assertive ensemble.

The album closes with a LeDonne original "Genesis," a slashing number with Farnsworth's propulsive drumming leading the way. Alexander, Bernstein and LeDonne are drawn into this irresistible rhythmic inquiry, responding with vital, scintillating work. The band and the gospel choir have a mission to touch all who listen.

Track Listing

Let Us Go; Lonnie's Lament; Twinkies Organ Prelude/Wonderful; Put It Back; Bridge Over Troubled Water; Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing; Make Someone Happy; Genesis.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Wonderful! | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Cellar Music Group


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