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Euge Groove came out of nowhere in 1999 with “Romeo + Juliet,” a heavily downloaded song on MP3.com whose popularity led to his signing to Warner Bros. Groove had a long career as a sideman: he played on Expose’s hit single “Seasons Change” in the ‘80s and jammed with Richard Marx and Tower of Power. Now on his third CD, Groove finds his throaty tenor sax is firmly established on smooth jazz radio. It’s another winner for the artist, although some may bypass the rap of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Thank You For Lettin’ Me Be Myself” to hear the instrumental version instead.
Like Richard Elliot, Groove has a knack for memorable melodies and for coaxing the max out of his sax—it growls, hits impossibly low notes and always sounds like it’s the way the instrument was meant to sound. You hear that on “Silhouette,” which is enhanced by some snappy keyboard runs. The title track, “Livin’ Large,” “XXL” and “Tool Cool” are templated Groove tunes, with their repeated melodies and mid-tempo grooves building to climaxes. No sax star worth his reeds would miss a chance to play a ballad, which Groove can do like no one else: “The Gift” is a change of pace, with Groove picking up the soprano sax and laying down some beautiful notes. Elsewhere, on “Cobolicious,” Groove uses wordless vocals and some jazzy piano for a change of pace.
Perhaps the most listenable song here is one you’ll probably recognize: James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight.” It’s no wonder Groove included it as it the perfect match for a smooth jazz cover.
Track Listing: Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight; Livin' Large; XXL; Take You Higher; Thank You; The Gift; Too Cool; Talk to Me; Silhouette; Cabolicious; Thank You (Falletin Me Be Mice Elf Again
Personnel: Euge Groove (saxophone); Jeff Carruthers (guitars, keys and programming); Tony Maiden (guitar); Alex Al (bass); Luis Conte (percussion); Paul Brown (guitar, percussion, drum programming); DC (digital editing); David "Khali" Woods (keys, programming); Johnny Britt (keys and programming); JBS (rap); Roberto Vally (bass); Herman Jackson (piano, strings); Herman Jackson (Fender Rhodes, piano, synths, vibes); Lil' John Roberts (drums); Paul Jackson Jr. (guitar); Bridgette Bryant (vocals); Lee Thornberg (trumpet, flugelhorn); Ollie Marland (Rhodes, programming); Ricky Peterson (organ);
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.