Pianist and organist Mike LeDonne enlisted a gospel choir to join his long-time outfit, the Groover Quartet, on his latest album Wonderful.
The result is a recording with an uplifting, soulful sound that’s fitting for an album that pays heartfelt tribute to LeDonne’s wife Margaret and daughter Mary, whose image is seen on the front cover.
Titled Wonderful for his daughter, LeDonne’s latest recording celebrates Mary and seeks to shine a light on others who are part of the disability community, celebrating their diversity as a beautiful aspect of humanity. Being Mary’s father has been a source of inspiration for LeDonne’s music and his activism; he initiated the creation of the Disability Pride Parade in New York because he wanted to showcase the vibrant and diverse nature of the disability community.
“When I started out, I had no idea how to create a parade or a non-profit organization, but through Mary, I found strengths in myself that I didn’t know I had,” LeDonne says. “When people thank me for my work creating the parade, I always tell them it wasn’t me — it was Mary.”
LeDonne collaborated with singer Carolyn Leonhart, who assisted in arranging the choir parts. Wonderful also features LeDonne’s longtime band of tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, guitarist Peter Bernstein, and drummer Joe Farnsworth, along with special guests in alto saxophonist Vincent Herring and percussionist Danny Sadownick.
The repertoire includes gospel classics such as “Let Us Go” and “Put It Back,” along with classics like John Coltrane’s “Lonnie’s Lament” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
Here’s the track listing:
- Let Us Go
- Lonnie’s Lament
- Twinkie’s Organ Prelude/Wonderful
- Put It Back
- Bridge Over Troubled Water
- Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing
- Make Someone Happy
Mike LeDonne’s Wonderful is out Feb. 16, 2024, via Cellar Music Group.