Mike LeDonne

On Fire

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Organist Mike LeDonne has built upon the tradition of soul-jazz organ/tenor sax combos of the 1960s and 1970s on this delightful CD that was recorded at Smoke in New York City. Joined by tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander and guitarist Peter Bernstein (both of whom worked extensively in similar groups), along with drummer Joe Farnsworth, LeDonne gets things going with an extended workout of the Spinners' "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" that allows for plenty of fine blowing. The late organist Charles Earland provides plenty of fireworks, while Duke Pearson's bittersweet "Idle Moments" is drenched in emotion in a slow, tantalizing rendition. LeDonne's "Prayer for Mary" is dedicated to his young daughter, who experienced a difficult birth and suffers from a rare medical condition. The introduction reveals the composer's anxiety at the time, while the body of the piece turns uptempo and reflects a spiritual influence, with his chords providing the congregational response to the sermons by Bernstein and Alexander in turn. The guitarist's slow, sassy blues "Bones" also merits strong praise. Recommended.

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