This is a CD I shall certainly return to after writing the review, perhaps taking it in the car to make the next traffic jam less of a pain.

Cellar Music CM032323

Mike LeDonne (Hammond B3) and small group including Peter Berstein (guitar), Eric Alexander (tenor sax) with 11 piece Gospel Choir

Eight tracks. Recorded New Jersey March 23 and 24, 2023

New York organist Mike LeDonne reckons that no-one has previously put a gospel choir together with a Hammond B3, which seems surprising given the way the B3 was born into the gospel church world. But who cares? There is some smoking music here. The album, well-titled Wonderful, is dedicated to LeDonne’s handicapped daughter and the disability charities who help her and others with similar issues. It was LeDonne who organized the inaugural disability pride parade in New York City.

LeDonne’s day job, or more accurately his night job, has been to play with just about everyone at the hard bop end of the spectrum. Think Benny Golson, the Art Farmer—Clifford Jordan Quintet, Charles McPherson, James Moody, Sonny Rollins, Ernestine Anderson, Annie Ross, Lou Donaldson, George Coleman and David “Fathead” Newman.

There are some interesting people on this album but the sleeve note is a bit short on bio info. So, to flesh out a few of the details, the lightning fast guitarist here is Peter Bernstein who has also worked with Coleman, Newman and Rollins, along with Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Diana Krall and Lee Konitz.

The eleven-strong choir includes Carolyn Leonhart who happens to be the daughter of the wonderfully entertaining — and rock solid — jazz bassist Jay Leonhart. She has been a key backing singer for refreshingly melodic pop group Steely Dan. Singer Aisha de Haas performs on Broadway. Audrey Martells works with Nile Rodgers and the band Chic. Everett Bradley has been with rock band Bon Jovi.

My thanks to Mr. Google and the Internet for this info. So now is a good time to remind that anyone with access to a computer, phone or tablet can have fun doing their own digging on this, and for that matter any other, music recording.

I have never much liked Simon and Garfunkel’s funeral-favourite anthem Bridge Over Troubled Water but LeDonne’s version here gives it whole new groove.

The recording was done last year at the legendary Van Gelder Studio in New Jersey. Say no more. Except perhaps that one of the LeDonne tracks is a fresh cover of John Coltrane’s Lonnie’s Lament, which Coltrane originally recorded at the same studio.

This is a CD I shall certainly return to after writing the review, perhaps taking it in the car to make the next traffic jam less of a pain.