Trumpeter, composer, educator and band leader Eddie Allen is a very busy New York artist currently leading a quartet, quintet, a Latin/Brazilian group and the seventeen-piece big band, The Aggregation, the latter debuting with Groove's Mood. Allen which claims to have one goal: "To have the listener in a finger-snappin,' head bobbin,' toe-tappin,' feel good mood from beginning to end." With ten pieces of blues, samba, and shuffle to ballad, spiritual and R& B classics, including instrumentals as well as vocal performances, Groove's Mood succeeds quite well in achieving that objective.
The music starts swinging with the brassy title track, led by Bruce Barth's wonderful piano introduction, then handing it off to tenor man Jay Brandford and trumpeter John Bailey, who guide the music with the support of the mighty woodwinds. "Brasilia" is another original with a true "head bobbin'" Brazilian flavor, punctuated by a dazzling alto solo from Tia Fuller, complimenting one of the many outstanding charts here. Departing from the majority of its hard-core jazz theme, "Wade In The Water," a traditional Negro spiritual, is performed like a raunchy gospel with another goal in mind, to say "Amen, brother" for this fine music.
Vocalist Latanya Hall delivers a smooth performance on a couple of well-known Stevie Wonder
songs, beginning with "You Are The Sunshine of My Love." She steps aside for awhile on the almost nine-minute rendition of "My Cherie Amour," as the band takes over with a beautiful orchestration including spots from Barth, Brandford on alto flute and Eddie Allen on trumpet. Allen repeats "You Are The Sunshine of My Life" as the album closer, but this time as an instrumental. Allen is featured on a couple of other pieces, but none so prominently as on the lovely ballad of "Tenderly," where he blows the horn in cushy fashion for one of the album's highlights.
In tribute to a couple of jazz legends no longer with us, Allen pays homage to pianist James Williams
with a sprawling arrangement of his signature tune, "Sky Dive." A composer and author as well, Allen pens a musical history lesson on African slavery with the "The Black Coming," a four-part referring to being "Kidnapped," the act of "Servitude," the feeling of "Jubilation" and, finally, the condition of being "Enslaved"marvelously punctuated with strong brassy statements and making for another set high point.
The dictionary definition to "aggregate" means, in part, "taken altogether; considered as a whole; a collective body"referring, no doubt, to the combined talents of The Aggregation big band, seventeen unheralded players who find their groove under the direction of Eddie Allen and produce an audacious debut on Groove's Mood.
Track Listing: Groove's Mood; Brasilia; Wade In The Water; You Are The Sunshine of My Life; Tenderly; The Soulful Mister Timmons; Sky Dive; The Black Comming; My Cherie Amour; You Are The Sunshine of My Life (Instrumental).
Personnel: Eddie Allen: director, trumpet; Kevin Bryan: lead trumpet, flugelhorn; Cecil Bridgewater: trumpet, flugelhorn; Guido Gonzales: trumpet, flugelhorn; John Bailey: trumpet, flugelhorn; Clifton Anderson: trombone; Sam Burtis: trombone; Isrea Butler: trombone; Jack Jeffers: bass trombone, tuba; David Glaser: alto saxophone, flute; Tia Fuller: alto saxophone, soprano, flute; Patience Higgins: tenor saxophone, flute; Jay Brandford: tenor saxophone, alto flute; Howard Johnson: baritone saxophone; Bruce Barth: piano; Dwayne Burno: acoustic bass; Carl Allen: drums; Latanya Hall: vocals (4, 9).