The Groover

The Groover Quartet / Mike LeDonne

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The Groover Review

by Michael G. Nastos

Since establishing himself as a fine modern mainstream jazz pianist, Mike LeDonne has been working more on the Hammond B-3 organ, for both a steady gig in New York City, and recordings that reflect both his love for bop and soul-jazz. The Groover alternates tracks between these two idioms, showing off his impressive chops and his interest in slowing things down to a simmering and more commercially based contemporary music. With top-notch tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, guitarist Peter Bernstein, and drummer Joe Farnsworth, LeDonne has a dream team of experienced peers to jam with, and they swing hard when called upon. On the originals "Blues for McCoy" and "Bopsolete," LeDonne is furiously flying across his keyboard, while in the spirit of Charles Earland, he renders pop tunes like Michael Jackson's "Rock with You" and the old Supremes/Temptations hit "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" with the same dexterity and wit. Benny Golson's "Little Mary" ups the blues quotient, while the remainder of the program balances ballads with more straight-ahead material. There's substance and depth in LeDonne's musicality while avoiding overt funk, making for a pleasing program that mainstream jazz lovers and baby boomers can embrace.

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