Six of New York City’s heaviest hitters convened at the legendary Rudy Van Gelder studios to present music that’s built to tickle your mind, hit you in the heart & get your feet tappin’ with nine tracks written by pianist Mike LeDonne and tenor sax player Eric Alexander. Featuring Jeremy Pelt: trumpet; Vincent Herring: saxophone; Peter Washington: bass; Kenny Washington: drums; the self-titled debut from The Heavy Hitters, LeDonne’s latest sextet, has the feel of a tribute album, despite the album being full of originals. However, it is a tribute to a sound that LeDonne and partners are aiming for: in this case, that of the iconic Blue Note label’s 1950s-60s period.
Soulful, kick-ass swinging music that you might have heard on a Blue Note record back in the day…not to look back but to say this is still relevant because this is happening right now. For us it’s pretty much what we’ve been doing all of our lives. And of course we got to record it at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio, a place I feel we are so lucky to still have up and running and that is putting out the same great sound we have all loved for all these years—a true “Jazz” sound.
The Heavy Hitters’ new album is a satisfying release that showcases plenty of fine contributions from musicians who are indeed among the “heavy hitters” of their generation. Fans of classic jazz will very much appreciate the spirit and dedication on display here.