As any veteran musician knows, you have to learn how to play the house. “We had a lot of empty table with candles on them,” says keyboard vet Mike LeDonne, commenting on his early career gigs. “I was just hitting and missing, trying to figure out what my directions was gonna be. But that club really solidified my direction playing live and making it on this record.”
The Club is the historic Smoke Jazz Club in Manhattan; the record is LeDonne’s latest, the veritably smokin’ Keep The Faith (his sixth for Savant). It features his “Groover Quartet” with tenorist Eric Alexander, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Joe Farnsworth. “Now, I know that if it works at Smoke,” LeDonne adds, “it’s gonna work with the general public. That’s the beauty of having a gig like that. Some of the things I bring in, I only play it once, and you never hear it again. But some of them, first time, you can tell right away, that it’s a keeper. So, when I make these records, they’re all keepers.”
Although LeDonne started recording in 1988, he wasn’t playing organ in the studio back then. “On organ as a leader, this is only my fourth organ/leader date,” he notes.