Mike LeDonne It’s All Your Fault (Savant 2021)


You can feel that he feels the bop organ groove in his bones. Mike LeDonne gives it his all on his latest, It’s All Your Fault.

MIke LeDonne - It's All Your Fault


Mike LeDonne (organ), Frank Green, Joe Magnarelli, Jon Faddis & Joshua Bruneau (trumpet), Eric Alexander & Scott Robinson (tenor saxophone), Jim Snidero & Steve Wilson (alto saxophone), Jason Marshall (baritone saxophone), Dion Tucker, Doug Purviance, Mark Patterson & Steve Davis (trombone), John Webber (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums)


on February 12 & 13, 2020 at Rudy van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey


as SCD 2183 in 2021

Track listing

It’s All Your Fault
Rock With You
Party Time
Bags And Brown
Biggest Part Of Me
Blues For Jed

Appropriately, Mike LeDonne, like his heavyweight friends and colleagues, guitarist Peter Bernstein, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander and drummer Joe Farnsworth on It’s All Your Fault, is a regular at club Smoke in New York City. LeDonne is a first-class burner. His well-known resumé includes associations with Milt Jackson, Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins. He has maintained extraordinary careers on piano and organ and has released numerous records with his Groover Quartet.

The Groover Quartet is present on his latest outing on Savant, which is dedicated to Lonnie Smith – it’s all ‘his’ fault that he hipped so many musicians to the beauty of Hammond playing. The band is expanded with a big brass and reed ensemble, and LeDonne feels like a fish in the water. He’s plainly on fire and duly stimulated by the punchy and sassy parts of the ensemble members. They’re like masseurs and trainers that have prepared their world-class athlete for his Olympic game. This record, recorded at Rudy van Gelder Studio in New Jersey, oozes the classic organ jazz feeling and it’s over before you know it.

LeDonne masters all aspects of the art of B3 down to the last detail and occasionally even reaches back to the orchestral style of pioneer Wild Bill Davis in a live setting. “Davis bits” tastefully permeate LeDonne’s version of Lionel Ritchie’s ballad Still, but It’s All Your Fault mainly consists of hardcore hard bop. Delicious, hard-swinging stuff. LeDonne performs thrilling versions of Grant Green’s Matador and Lee Morgan’s Party Time. In the flexible tradition of soul jazz, the organist transforms pop into jazz and swings merrily and funky on a shuffle version of Michael Jackson’s Rock With You, a long-time staple of LeDonne’s live sets.

He penned a couple of fine originals. Among them, Bags And Brown (guess who), a catchy tune and arrangement that brings back to life the vibe of the epic Ray Charles Band and its musical director Hank Crawford. Speaking of bands, LeDonne’s band of New York brothers sounds fresh, tight and driven and sparks fly off Alexander and Bernstein’s solo’s. And LeDonne? Well, he plainly remains the unbeatable modern jazz organist.

Mike LeDonne

Find It’s All Your Fault on Amazon here.

Marius Beets This Is Your Captain Speaking (Maxanter 2018)


The Dutch-American crew of bassist and composer Marius Beets delivers the outstanding This Is Your Captain Speaking.

Marius Beets - This Is Your Captain Speaking


Marius Beets (bass), Eric Alexander (tenor saxophone), Joe Cohn (guitar), Peter Beets (piano), Willie Jones III (drums)


on February 27 & 28, 2016 at Studio Smederij, Zeist, The Netherlands


as Maxanter 74607 in 2018

Track listing

Dextro Energy
Brother Julian
El Capitano
The One And Only
Tafkamp Is Still On The Scene
Carpe Diem
This Is Your Captain Speaking
The End Of The Affair
Moody’s Groove

Hypes come and go and boundaries are being crossed every time a Chinese tourist says cheese. It is easy to overlook that around the world real jazz albums also keep appearing with the regularity of the clock. Also in The Netherlands, which has a solid mainstream jazz scene, a great history of welcoming American musicians and, in the guise of Marius Beets, one of its most prominent bass players. Beets released This Is Your Captain Speaking on his Maxanter label. The album includes tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, pianist (and brother of Marius) Peter Beets, guitarist Joe Cohn and drummer Willie Jones III. They perform ten original compositions by bandleader Marius Beets.

So there’s the cream of the crop delivering high-level improvisation, swing and a healthy dose of blues, inspired by the catchy and challenging tunes of Marius Beets. Eric Alexander is a master of execution who loves to explore the sonic extremes of his instrument. His seemingly effortless integration of these idiosyncracies in his stories, in themselves an ongoing evaluation of the work of Alexander’s heroes like George Coleman and John Coltrane, is striking. He enlivens the boppish The End Of The Affair and the Latin-type line of Dextro Energy with hip twists and lurid fragments of scales. The ending of his remarkably crafty solo during This Is Your Captain Speaking, a clever, blues-based Horace Silver-ish tune, is a bossy bark that must’ve cracked up people in the studio.

62-year old Joe Cohn, the son of saxophonist Al Cohn, who uses a prickly yet full sound, is never short on ideas, which he strings together with staccato notes and supple single lines. He sets fire to Tafkamp Is Still On The Scene, a funky vamp that segues into a driving 4/4 section. The interaction of Marius and his brother Peter, internationally acclaimed pianist, is special, perhaps not surprising considering their life-long association. Emandem especially reveals their subtle interplay of bass lines.

The abundance of hard bop/post bop makes This Is Your Captain Speaking highly enjoyable. The funky ode to Cannonball Adderley, Brother Julian, boogaloo-based Moody’s Groove and The One And Only, an album highlight in the tradition of mid-sixties avant-leaning Blue Note point out the group’s versatile use of the mainstream jazz language. Besides, the group also plays sweet and light – El Capitano, Carpe Diem. The overall sound is, in fact, pleasantly light without becoming lightweight. The crisp and clear sound of the crackerjack drummer Willie Jones III’s ride cymbal underlines that particular canvas. It is a contemporary sound, but also has a foot in the past, the early 70s Muse/Strata-East ‘feel’ in particular. The album is recorded at the studio of Beets, who partakes in myriad musical activities beside bass playing.

You can count on Marius Beets, the bass player. He’s a tasteful, highly skilled accompanist with a tremendous bottom groove. Beets also delivers a number of melodic solos with sustained momentum. Not only did he write an album of superb tunes, he also picked a world-class crew. Not a trace of hesitation by these gentlemen. Dig those solo entrances, time and again! Those are a joy to listen to, as much as the excellent development of their stories.

Check out album info and the website of Marius Beets here.

Eric Alexander

Take Three with Eric Alexander

Eric Alexander picks some of his favorite recordings. “Do you want to go on a two-month vacation to discuss?!

Alexander, artist-in-residence at the Rabobank Amersfoort Jazz Festival from May 24-27, strolls through the square on a blistering hot Sunday evening, crisp and booming sounds from Henk Meutgeert’s Youth Orchestra emanating from the stage. He’s talking to the promising pianist Timothy Banchet, who listens intently. Erect posture, dark sunglasses, black suit. One could easily mistake Alexander for Vic Vega from Quinten Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. The tenor saxophonist means business. But he also has a soft spot as the family man that he is at heart. “Playing acoustic jazz is a tremendous joy. If what I feel strongly about makes someone step out of his everyday routine, that’s a blessing. The greatest joy in my life other than being with my family.”

Now Alexander is backstage, buried in his chair. In between the festival’s Sunday jam sessions. “Then I’ll fly home on Tuesday and get to work on kicking this Grolsch habit. So, let’s focus on the records that I like and maybe a lot of people haven’t heard. Of course I can say I love A Love Supreme, but everybody will, and does. I’m going with the weird ones.”

Good idea. Join in?

“You know that record of Eddie Harris with Jimmy Smith, live at Keystone Corner? (All The Way Live, 1981, FM) The first tune (Alexander hums the line) is a blues in F, I forget the title. (You’ll See, FM) Eddie’s solo is outrageous. Most young players don’t even know who Eddie Harris is. That’s ridiculous. The man is a combination of sorts. He plays bebop, like Sonny Stitt at points. He plays so bluesy it hurts, he’s a real blues player. Then he is funky. And plays ‘out’. This blues in F might be one of the greatest blues-in-F-solos at this tempo ever.”

“Most people don’t know about Clifford Jordan’s Glass Bead Games. (Strata-East 1974) It’s epic. It eschews musical bullying, it’s totally organic. No musician is more important than the other one. They’re floating around like pals on a magic carpet. That’s interesting, because most groups aren’t like that.”

“Sonny Stitt? He did so many records, literally hundreds. Take the money and run. So there’s bound to be some lesser-known gem. Probably the greatest alto saxophone solo of an uptempo tune is I Know That You Know from the album New York Jazz. It includes Ray Brown and Papa Jo Jones (Verve 1956: it also includes pianist Jimmy Jones, FM) Ray Brown is challenging Sonny Stitt to see who’s going to rush, who’ll be more on top of the beat. Papa Jo is a bit freaked out and a little behind. That’s not his fault, he’s playing it where he wants it, but it’s Ray Brown and Sonny Stitt off to the races. It doesn’t matter though. The solo that Stitt plays… He never misses, does he? We’re talking about a hard tune to play, for a variety of reasons. The fast tempo is one of those. Stitt’s articulation and conception, the way he plays through the changes and his creativity are incredible.

“To this day, a lot of people talk Stitt down. I don’t understand it. They say, ‘well, he just plays perfect, that’s not hard and boring.’ Really? Well, you do that! I want to hear one of these people play four bars at this tempo like that. Opinions like these constitute one of the great, disgusting injustices perpetrated in jazz music. A lot of the time, the musicians are opinionated. They cold-shouldered Phineas Newborn, for instance. Cold music, supposedly. Well, you try it. Everything he plays is improvised. Same with Stitt, he’s improvising. Sure, he has pet phrases. Who hasn’t? But he never purposely played a wrong note, then fixed it, like Herbie Hancock. But I don’t give a shit. That’s not the way he played. His version of I Know That You Know is a masterpiece. This is sacrilegious: it’s an improvement of Bird. Well, nobody’s better than Bird. Bird is number one. But that solo is right up on Bird.”

Eric Alexander

Eric Alexander (49) is one of the most outstanding (hard) bop and post bop tenor saxophonists of his generation. Ever since finishing 2nd at the 1991 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition (behind Joshua Redman, in front of Chris Potter) and his apprenticeship with organ masters like Charles Earland, Brother Jack McDuff and Jimmy McGriff in the early 90s, Alexander has been performing and recording very prolifically. He has released more than 40 albums as a leader, is featured on at least 100 albums as a sideman and has cooperated with, among others, Harold Mabern, George Coleman, Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Cecil Payne, Cedar Walton, Junior Mance, Melvin Rhyne, Charles Earland, Idris Muhammad, Pat Martino, Rein de Graaff, Mike LeDonne, David Hazeltine, Grant Stewart and Jim Rotundi. The New York-based Alexander regularly performs abroad and is a mainstay in The Netherlands.

Selected discography:

As a leader:
Straight Up (Delmark 1992)
The First Milestone (Milestone 1999)
Wide Horizons (with One For All, Criss Cross 2002)
Dead Centre (HighNote 2004)
Song Of No Regrets (HighNote 2017)

As a sideman:
Charles Earland, I Ain’t Jivin’, I’m Jammin’ (Muse 1992)
Pat Martino, Stone Blue (Blue Note 1999)
Jimmy Cobb, Cobb’s Groove (Milestone 2003)
Mike LeDonne/The Groover Quartet, Keep The Faith (Savant 2011)
Harold Mabern, To Love And Be Loved (Smoke Sessions 2017)

Go to the website of Eric Alexander here.

The Real Thing

ERIC ALEXANDER – Cutting your teeth with the elders is the best thing an aspiring jazz musician can do. Conservatory alone doesn’t get you anywhere. Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander (48) is a prime example of a musician with levity, who as a youngster soaked up the tradition of bop and hard bop while developing and maintaining his own individual voice. Obviously, Alexander is part of the last generation (Chris Potter, Terenche Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove, Ethan Iverson, Vincent Herring etc.) that has been able to gain experience on a regular basis with the legends of the 50s and 60s. Alexander has been cooperating with one of those greats, pianist Harold Mabern, for more than 20 years now. The immaculate and highly acclaimed New York-based saxophonist recorded over thirty albums as a leader and appeared on dozens of albums as a sideman.

Last year, Alexander was interviewed by Brian Pace for the Pace Report, which has been offering insightful glimpses into the careers and views of legends and contemporary cats for some years now. View here. Alexander ruminates on his origins, ‘perfect’ Pat Martino, ‘growing up’ as a musician in the lively scene of the Chicago South Side and on the road with organist Charles Earland, on getting kicked in the ass by Brother Jack McDuff… Harold Mabern himself draws up to the Pace table and compliments his younger associate and former student on his musical integrity, intellect and sound. “Eric Alexander has the sound and listened to all the right people.”

Find the link to Eric Alexander’s website here.