As the band’s name implies, groove is paramount to keyboardist Mike LeDonne’s Groover Quartet. The group has been together for 14 years, and they’ve developed an addictive sound that appeals to jazz aficionados as well as recent converts. The same is true of LeDonne’s I Love Music, a gem on which his B-3 organ mastery is complemented by muscular contributions from Eric Alexander (tenor saxophone), Peter Bernstein (guitar) and Joe Farnsworth (drums). In the liner notes, LeDonne says, “I love that full sound on the organ. Sometimes I like to rein it in, but a lot of times I just like to open it up. I guess a lot of people will say that’s the old-fashioned sound, but to me, I love it—with all the drawbars out and Leslie on; that’s the organ.” Onstage and in the studio, LeDonne merges advanced chops with sheer fun. This album is the sound of four guys having a blast as they interpret the type of material that generates smiles among the faithful at New York venue Smoke, where they frequently play. On a swinging rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “I Love Every Little Thing About You,” LeDonne mixes single lines with a series of mini shout choruses to push the energy into overdrive. On “The World Is A Ghetto,” LeDonne and Alexander engage in some classic call-and-response before Bernstein rips off a clean, compelling solo, followed by Alexander, whose tone can shift from buttery to brawny. There’s also a head-bobbing, eight-minute workout of Wonder’s 1982 hit “Do I Do,” but not every moment on this disc is centered on groove. All four players offer intricate, complex solos on the title track, and in the song’s middle section, LeDonne crafts a delightfully weird, spare segment in which his B-3 sounds like something from a science-fiction flick. It’s a breather that makes the return of the song’s mighty groove just a bit sweeter.
Downbeat Magazine, May 2014
review by Bobby Reed