Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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LeDonne, Mike

LeDonne, Mike, piano and Hammond organ; b. Bridgeport, CT, 26 October 1956. His parent's names are Mickey and Marion LeDonne. His father lived from 1917 to 1987 and his mother (who's still living) was born in 1918. His father was a jazz guitarist who won the Major Bowes amateur hour when he was 17 and made recordings (and some film shorts) and did tours with his trio until Mikes mother put a stop to it. He wound up back in Bridgeport owning a music store named "LeDonne's Music Box" and playing in the area.

Mike started on piano when he was 5 years old and the organ when he was 10. He was raised in his parent's music store and by the age of 10 his father began booking him on gigs. He studied with John Mehegan from 1970-73 in Westport Conn. In 72 and 73, he also attended the Manhattan School of Music Prep division. He attended New England Conservatory of Music from 1974-78 and received a Bachelor of Music degree. His teacher there was Jaki Byard.

At age 21, Mike graduated from New England Conservatory and moved to New York City with the Widespread Jazz Orchestra. In 1981, he left Widespread to travel to the UK with Panama Francis and the Savoy Sultans. On returning, he began a two-year stint as the house pianist at Jimmy Ryan's, then one of New York's oldest jazz clubs. It was there that he came under the influence of and played with many old masters such as Roy Eldridge, Papa Jo Jones and Vic Dickenson. He spent 1982-1983 with the Benny Goodman sextet and went on to play with Buddy Tate, Al Grey, Ruby Braff and many others. Later he worked with the Art Farmer-Clifford Jordan Quintet, went to Paris with Grady Tate, and played with James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Stanley Turrentine, Charles McPherson and Sonny Rollins. He also spent time as accompanist to singers Ernestine Anderson, Annie Ross and Etta Jones.

In 1988 he started playing with the Milt Jackson Quartet (along with Mickey Roker and Bob Cranshaw). Mr. Jackson recorded Mike's compositions and arrangements. Mike also became the band's musical director. In the fall of 1992, Mike was chosen to be part of a group of top young musicians for the Phillip Morris Superband World Tour. Mike served as musical director for that group, which featured Ryan Kisor on trumpet, Joshua Redman on tenor saxophone, Jesse Davis on alto saxophone, Christian McBride on bass and Lewis Nash at the drums. Around this time, Mike toured with the Newport All-Stars in lineups that also featured Harry "Sweets" Edison and Clark Terry. Mike has been playing and recording with Benny Golson since 1997. He has also been leading trios which have included Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Billy Hart, Pete LaRoca and Louis Hayes. Most recently, he has worked with Bobby Hutcherson.

Mike has played concerts and clubs around the world since 1981. Along with his many recordings as a sideman, he has five CDs on Criss Cross Jazz and three on Doubletime Records. His record "Bout Time", was chosen as one of the recordings selected as "Record Of The Year" in the 1989 Jazz Journal Critics Poll. "The Feeling of Jazz" was chosen as one of the "Top Ten Records of 1991" in the Jazz Times Critics Poll. "Soulmates" came in second in the "Best 12 Recordings of 1994" WBGO Poll (WBGO is the leading jazz radio station in the New York area). "Waltz For An Urbanite" won "Record Of The Month" in its first month of release on WBGO in Newark.

Mike is the co-author of Jim Snidero's Jazz Conceptions for Piano and Piano comping books, on Advance Music. In 2001 he was asked to join the faculty of the Juilliard School as part of its Jazz Studies Division. He has won praise not only from critics but from master musicians: His Hammond organ playing got him selected as Talent Deserving Wider Recognition in the 2002 Downbeat Critics poll and Oscar Peterson picked him as one of his favorite pianists of today.His wife's name is Margaret Patterson.

Recordings:
Bout Time (1988); The Feeling of Jazz (1989); Common Ground (1990); Soulmates (1993); Waltz for an Urbanite (1996); To Each His Own (1998); Then & Now (1999); Bags Groove (Tribute to Milt Jackson) (2001)
As sideman:
Scott Hamilton: Concord Heritage Series (1974); Widespread Jazz Orch.: Downtown Uproar (1978), Rockin' n' Rhythm (1978), Time to Jump and Shout (1980), Paris Blues (1983); Duke Robillard: Swing (1988); Chris Flory: For All We Know (1989); Michael Hashim: Lotus Blossom (1990); Tad Shull: Deep Passion (1990); Michael Hashim: A Blue Streak (1991); Tad Shull:  In The Land Of The Tenor (1991); Michael Hashim: Guys and Dolls (1992); Stash Sampler (1992); Concord Jazz Guitar col. Vol. 1 (1992); Joshua Redman: Joshua Redman (1993); Scott Hamilton: Organic Duke (1994); David Schumacher: Every Corner (1996); Gary Smulyan: Saxaphone Mosaic (1996); Duke Robillard: Plays Jazz : the Rounder Years (1997); Clifford Jordan: Mellow Side of Clifford Jordan (1997); Akira Sakurai: New York All Stars (1998); Milt Jackson: Sava Bella-Quest (1998): Benny Golson: Remembering Clifford (1998), Thank You John (1998); Anhtony Wilson: Goat Hill Junket (1998); Benny Waters: Live at Birdland (1998); Jim Snidero: Standards Plus (1998); David Lahm: Jazz Takes on Joni Mitchell (1999); Michael Hashim: Multi Colored Blue (1999); Jon Gordon: The Things We Need (1999); Ernie Andrews: Ernie Andrews and Frank Wess (1999); Craig Wueper: The Returnsman (2001); Mike Dirubo: Keep Steppin (2001)

Contact information:
Mike LeDonne
484 West 43rd Street #39H
New York, NY 10036
(212) 971- 6058
Can be contacted by phone or fax at (212) 971-6058, or at mledonne@earthlink.net

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