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Album Review

Soulmates was pianist Mike LeDonne's fourth album for the Dutch label Criss Cross, and it is likely one of his best. Granted, LeDonne really couldn't go wrong with musicians like alto saxist Jon Gordon, tenor saxophone giant Joshua Redman, veteran drummer Lewis Nash, Ryan Kisor on trumpet, and Peter Washington on bass, but here the veteran New York pianist has really outdone himself. If any jazz record released in the past decade could be compared to the classic quintet/quartet Blue Note albums of the 1950s (such as recorded by Jimmy Smith and Art Blakey) it's this one. Though LeDonne did most of the arranging and wrote nearly all the songs on the album, his playing itself is one of its highlights. Listen to him weave through the second piece on the album, "Homage," ducking in and out of the changes, priming the rhythm section before rising to a simmering climax at the end of the chorus. Also standing out on this session is Joshua Redman, who plays consistently brilliant solos that mix the modern technical acrobatics of Michael Brecker with the bluesy sounds of Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. Veteran alto player Jon Gordon blows several burning solos as well, with especially spectacular playing on the opener, "Jessica's Birthday," and "Shaky Jake," a Cedar Walton tune. Ryan Kisor, best known for his stint with the Mingus Big Band, plays excellent here also, sounding at times like Freddie Hubbard, but more often than not playing with a highly original style. Drummer Lewis Nash and bassist Peter Washington keep rock solid time throughout the album, both embellishing and reacting to the soloist's ideas and playing off them. A great album for Mike LeDonne all round, proving that he is among New York's top jazz pianists, composers, and arrangers.

Top Albums and Songs by Mike LeDonne Sextet

Soulmates, Mike LeDonne Sextet
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  • 9,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Hard Bop
  • Released: 18 January 1993

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