Mike LeDonne

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Mike LeDonne
Mike-LeDonne DSC00954.jpg
Denmark (2012)
Background information
Birth nameMichael Arthur LeDonne
Born (1956-10-26) October 26, 1956 (age 62)
Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
InstrumentsPiano, Hammond organ
Years active1988–present
LabelsCriss Cross, Savant

Michael Arthur LeDonne (born October 26, 1956) is a jazz pianist and organist known for post-bop and hard bop. He has worked with Benny Golson since 1996 and performs under his own name all over the world.

Early life[edit]

LeDonne was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on October 26, 1956.[1] His parents ran a music store.[2] His father was a jazz guitarist, and LeDonne started performing locally around the age of ten.[1] He also had lessons with John Mehegan for four years.[1] After graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1978, he moved to New York City and joined the Widespread Depression Jazz Orchestra.[1]

Later life and career[edit]

LeDonne left the Widespread Depression Jazz Orchestra in 1981 and toured the UK with Panama Francis and the Savoy Sultans[1] Back in New York, LeDonne became the house pianist at Jimmy Ryan's, where he played with some big names in jazz during 1981–83.[1][2] He was also part of Benny Goodman's Sextet in 1982–83.[1]

LeDonne joined Milt Jackson's quartet around 1987; he also composed for and recorded with the band.[1][2] His first recording as a leader was in 1988.[2] It was released by Criss Cross, and LeDonne went on to record several more albums for them in the 1990s.[2] "As a sideman he played in the Art FarmerClifford Jordan Quintet and toured Paris with Grady Tate (both 1988), performed with Charles McPherson (1992), James Moody (1992), Sonny Rollins (1995), and Benny Golson (late 1990s), and served as an accompanist to Ernestine Anderson and Annie Ross."[1] In 1998 LeDonne began recording for Double-Time Records.[2]

Playing style[edit]

Grove wrote: "A level of understatement in LeDonne's style reflects the playing of Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan. Predominantly a bop pianist, he introduces a strong left hand into his work and reveals an understanding of swing piano playing".[1]


As leader[edit]

  • 'Bout Time (1988) Criss Cross
  • The Feeling of Jazz (1990) Criss Cross
  • Common Ground (1990) Criss Cross
  • Soulmates (1993) Criss Cross
  • Waltz for an Urbanite (1995) Criss Cross
  • To Each His Own (1998) Double-Time
  • Then & Now (2000) Double-Time
  • Bags Groove: A Tribute to Milt Jackson (2001) Double-Time
  • Smokin' Out Loud (Savant, 2004)
  • Night Song (Savant, 2005)
  • On Fire: Live at Smoke [with Eric Alexander, Peter Bernstein, Joe Farnsworth] (2006) Savant
  • Five Live (Live at Smoke) (2007) Savant
  • The Groover [with Eric Alexander, Peter Bernstein, Joe Farnsworth] (2009) Savant
  • Keep the Faith [The Groover Quartet with Eric Alexander, Peter Bernstein, Joe Farnsworth] (2011) Savant
  • Let It Go [Blue Duo with John Webber ] (2008 [rel. 2013]) GoFour
  • Speak (2013) Cellar Live
  • I Love Music [The Groover Quartet with Eric Alexander, Peter Bernstein, Joe Farnsworth] (2013) Savant
  • Awwl Right! [The Groover Quartet with Eric Alexander, Peter Bernstein, Joe Farnsworth] (2015) Savant
  • That Feelin' [The Groover Quartet with Eric Alexander, Peter Bernstein, Joe Farnsworth] (2016) Savant
  • From The Heart [The Groover Quartet with Eric Alexander, Peter Bernstein, Joe Farnsworth] (2018) Savant

As sideman[edit]

With Eric Alexander

  • Gentle Ballads (2004) Venus
  • The Battle (Live at Smoke) [with Vincent Herring] (2005) HighNote
  • Gentle Ballads II (2006) Venus
  • Gentle Ballads III (2007) Venus
  • Lazy Afternoon: Gentle Ballads IV (2008) Venus
  • Revival of the Fittest (2009) HighNote
  • Friendly Fire (Live at Smoke) [with Vincent Herring] (2011) HighNote

With Mike DiRubbo

  • Keep Steppin' (2001) Criss Cross

With Chris Flory

  • For All We Know (1988) Concord
  • Word on the Street (1996) Double-Time
  • For You (2007) Arbors

With Benny Golson

With Wycliffe Gordon

  • Boss Bones (2007) Criss Cross
  • Cone and T-Staff (2009) Criss Cross

With Scott Hamilton

  • Organic Duke (1994) Concord

With Michael Hashim

  • A Blue Streak (1991) Stash
  • Guys and Dolls (1992) Stash
  • Multi Coloured Blue [a tribute to Billy Strayhorn] (1998) Hep

With Milt Jackson

  • Sa Va Bella (For Lady Legends) (1997) Qwest/WB

With Clifford Jordan

With Alvin Queen

  • I Ain't Lookin' at You (2005) Enja
  • Mighty Long Way (2008) Enja

With Duke Robillard

With Scott Robinson

  • Jazz Ambassador: Scott Robinson Plays the Compositions of Louis Armstrong (2004) Arbors
  • Scott Robinson Plays the Compositions of Thad Jones: Forever Lasting (2007) Arbors

With Jim Rotondi

With Tad Shull

  • Deep Passion (1990) Criss Cross
  • In the Land of the Tenor (1991) Criss Cross

With Greg Skaff

  • Blues For Mr. T (2003) Khaeon [note: reissued in 2004 as Ellington Boulevard on Zoho]

With Gary Smulyan

  • Saxophone Mosaic (1993) Criss Cross
  • Gary Smulyan With Strings (1996) Criss Cross
  • The Real Deal (2002) Reservoir
  • More Treasures (2006) Reservoir
  • Smul's Paradise (2011) Capri

With Jim Snidero

  • Standards Plus (1997) Double-Time
  • Tippin' (2007) Savant

With Benny Waters

  • Birdland Birthday: Live at 95 (1997) Enja

With Cory Weeds

  • Big Weeds (2008) Cellar Live
  • Up a Step: The Music of Hank Mobley (2012) Cellar Live
  • Condition Blue: The Music of Jackie McLean (2014) Cellar Live
  • Let's Groove: The Music of Earth Wind & Fire (2017) Cellar Live

With Laura Welland

  • Dissertations on the State of Bliss (2004) OA2/Origin

With Saori Yano


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kennedy, Gary W. (2003), LeDonne, Mike [Michael Arthur], Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, retrieved June 15, 2019
  2. ^ a b c d e f Arcone, Alex. "Mike LeDonne". AllMusic. Retrieved June 15, 2019.

External links[edit]