Cross the Crusader's Joe Sample with Gene Harris and one gets veteran Joe Augustine. Augustine has haunted jazz for the past twenty years as a pianist and arranger for big bands and has recorded consistently since the early 1990s, mostly on Revere, Moulin D'or, and now 1210 records. License to Grove
is Augustine's funky, modern take on an inventive collection of standards and originals. Augustine's sound is characterized by a plush and slickly-produced rhythm section providing a carpet upon which his orchestral approach and guitarist Peter Calo's sinewy sound rest. The tone is decidedly contemporary, much in the same way David Benoit's sound is contemporary.
Clever. Clever really does not begin to describe Augustine's arranging ability. The listener need not hear any piece other than "Cute Li'l Darlin" to know this. On this piece, Augustine grafts together two famous Neal Hefti's compositions into one of the smartest performances I have heard. While not as novel, Augustine's take on "Angel Eyes" is cool as is his view of Sonny Rollin's "Doxy".
contemporary jazz is not really my cup of tea, but I found this disc very enjoyable. Augustine is my kind of pianist, albeit a bit slick. This is a hard disc to dislike. Warmly recommended.
Personnel: Joe Augustine: Piano and Organ; Peter Calo: Guitar; David Finck: Bass; Clint De Ganon: Drums; Steve Kroon: Percussion.