The Heavy Hitters

Editor's Choice

Rating: ★★★★

Record and Artist Details


Kenny Washington (d)
Peter Washington
Eric Alexander
Jeremy Pelt (t)
Mike LeDonne (p)
Vincent Herring (as)
Rale Micic (g)


Cellar Music


Media Format:


Catalogue Number:



Rec. 8-9 May 2022

This record's title sounds like it might adorn the kind of all-star session that Pablo specialised in during the 1970s, promising a heavyweight line-up of established players running the changes in a simpatico setting. While there's certainly a starry cast of musicians aboard who are thoroughly at home in the tradition, this is a far more dynamic project.

The two leaders are perhaps the least familiar to UK listeners. Mike LeDonne, who contributes all but three of the nine original tunes, is a superb pianist steeped in the language whose Tyner-esque excursions always divert into unexpected directions: Eric Alexander's tenor combines all the post-Coltrane vocabulary with the big, romantic tone of an earlier generation - think Gene Ammons and Stanley Turrentine.

The feel is like a classic Woody Shaw session for Milestone - declamatory horns, uptempo minor key vamps, twisty changes alternating with modal stretch-outs, with excitement and hot blowing to the forefront. Vincent Herring's astringent alto delights on the monumental Blue Note minor blues ‘Chainsaw’, and Jeremy Pelt soars aloft in celebration on the Freddie tribute ‘Hub’. The Washingtons excel on their respective axes as well, swinging tough throughout. Solos are succinct and pithy, and everyone gets a chance to show what they can do. There's a workout on a progression by George Coleman, and a tribute to Cedar Walton that reworks his classic ‘Holy Land’ with truly joyous results. If you like the kind of jazz that Woody, George, Freddie, Cedar and their generation played, and want to hear it again, done really well, then this is for you.

To complete the package, the album was recorded at Rudy van Gelder's place in Englewood Cliffs, and sounds like it.

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