Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul.
It was in 2009 that smooth jazz superstar Euge Groove partnered with Shanachie Records for the release of the delightful Sunday Morning. Two years later he was back with the highly acclaimed S7even Large and if his latest project is anything to go by the creatively friendly surroundings that the label provides are suiting him just fine. Titled House Of Groove the album is everything one has come to expect from an artist who, with his 2000 self titled debut, really hit the ground running and truth to tell has been running ever since. It is his eighth solo recording and one which artistically finds him very much in control. He writes or co-writes all ten tracks, produces throughout and carries out mixing duties in the good company of long time mentor Paul Brown. Not only is this a collection that confirms his position as being in the very highest echelons of contemporary jazz but is also one of the best recordings of the year so far.
Indeed, from the first note of the first tune (the charmingly relaxed ‘Knock Knock Who’s There?’) there is no mistaking that here is Euge Groove at his familiar best. In fact much of this sumptuous CD can best be described as being ‘easy on the ear’ and this is particularly so with ‘Fellowship Hall’ where a piano solo from Tracy Carter really gets the job done.
Think funky, think very funky, and you will pretty much get what the high octane title cut is all about and although this is a style that serves Groove well he quickly slips back into a more melodic disposition for the aptly named ‘Old Edu (Old School)’. In similar vein is ‘Faithful Central’ which benefits from a nice guitar solo from Paul Brown and while ‘Lampin’ It’ opens with a wonderfully seductive vibe it quickly expands into a fine free flowing example of mid tempo smooth jazz.
House Of Groove features three vocally orientated numbers with the first being the tranquil ‘God Bless You’ where Kate Milner Moebel’s warm tones fit perfectly with Groove’s tender playing. Even better is the super soul charged ‘It’s Only Rain’ for which Chioma, (born in Africa, raised in Europe and now living in New York City), is a complete revelation.
The track is further blessed by trumpet from East Bay Soul’s Lee Thornberg yet in terms of personal favorites the rolling hypnotic quality of ‘Indian Summer’ marks it out as being right up there with the best that House Of Groove has to offer. However, just as good is the magnificent ‘Never Met A Woman (Like You)’. Soulful vocals from the always excellent Jeffrey Osborne totally hit the spot and in terms of crossover urban jazz it really doesn’t get better than this.
Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.