Jim Love & the Blue Groove: Gather 'Round (2003)
Jim Love is a Pennsylvanian drummer whose prior recording, The Way of the Drum (Wyndfall, 2001), impressed us here a couple of years ago. His new unit, the Blue Groove, is a stout quartet performing original jazz material with a current edge. This one is hard to categorize but easy to get into.
Love is an excellent rhythmic catalyst who brings a nice sense of variety to the selections here. His hot New Orleans beat on “Mayan Blues” is especially appealing, and on “There’s No Sound” he tumbles and punches behind the other musicians as they play a slow lament. Guitarist Andrew Hatch and bassist Raymond Clements are well-chosen partners who blend well with Love and saxophonist Seth Meicht. The tenor man is strong in tone and style but seems to be mixed a bit too loudly at times, throwing off the balance just a bit. All in all, the ensemble locks in together nicely and the solos are well-done.
DJ Dstar appears on three tracks, making effective use of his turntables on “Blue Groove” but getting a bit lost in the mix on “Bricolage.” There are more turntables on the closing track, but it wouldn’t play properly on any of my machines. Perhaps the disc was too full of music? I don’t think it was meant to sound that way; if it was, then the experiment didn’t work. “Parapeat” begins with free group improv, followed by bit of Aylerish lyricism from Meicht before the funky ensemble theme arrives. “Sunday School” is a hand-clap gospel tune featuring vocalist Raina Frey and “congregational” back-up. The other selections are workman-style modern jazz tunes that provide just the right material for this tight unit.
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Track Listing: Bite the Bullet; The Blue Groove; Mayan Blues; Split Hairs; Sweet Attitude; Parapeat; Bricolage; Tempest Reign; Johannesburg; Sunday School; There
Personnel: Jim Love, drums; Raymond Clements, upright bass; Seth Meicht, tenor sax; Andrew Hatch, guitar; DJ Dstar, turntables (#2,7,12); Lucas Brown, Hammond organ (#2,5,10); Mike DiFebbo, guitar (#5,10); Raine Frey, vocals (#10).
Record Label: Wyndfall