I popped the disc into my CD player. And with baited breath, I waited. With growing anticipation, of what I knew was sure to come; I waited as the instrumentalist moved into his groove. He expertly bobbed and weaved through the melodies and harmonies of each song like a Gisele, and so did I. I didn’t miss a beat. And when the tempo flipped as the momentum began to build within the compositions. I was on it. This dude was on fire and I was riding out with him. Oh yeah, he’s in the zone. And with each track, the licks came. Those musical phrasings that turn pretty groove music into jazz. Born 2 Groove got my attention and compelled me to say things like: “Oooo-we-baby, did you hear that?” and “Baa-by; that was sweet!”
Born 2 Groove, the title of Euge Groove’s new Narada Jazz recording and his fifth release in seven years, is more than simply a clever twist on the popular saxophonist’s funky name. My belief is that album titles have meaning. They tell us something about the album and the artist at the time the project was conceived and/or completed. So, what does the album title Born 2 Groove tell us about Euge Groove and this project, “Born 2 Groove? Wow, you know, after I got this record finished it had this spiritual kind of vibe, I think from the on set. It was kind of a play off the name Groove; I was born into the name Grove. But it was more about, you know, that I think God bestows things upon us all of the time. It was kind of a spiritual thing. And I think I was meant to do this.”
Born and raised in Hagerstown, Maryland, Eugene Grove began playing the piano at seven and the saxophone at nine. Groove developed an ear for the R&B heard on the radio; however his musical studies were strictly classical. He developed a wider appreciation for jazz while attending the University of Miami School of Music, but credits hearing solos by David Sanborn as the inspiration to pursue playing pop music.
This thing about taking the music to church, what’s up with that Euge? “It was just a different approach. The way the players came in. And especially the piano player his voicing brought it into that church language. It’s still me playing the sax. It’s still the same kind of writing. It just has that flavor put into it.” It is very up lifting.
My understanding is that the core band for this record was comprised of musicians from pop, soul, jazz, and gospel. Is there a difference in how musicians from other musical genre process music? Apparently, check this out. “Yes, there is definitely a different language spoken (musically). These guys (gospel musicians) have a different way of doing things especially in the keyboard/piano chair. The voicing is different. [For example, we maybe playing] an E major cord but the notes they use to compose an E major cord is a different language, a different dialect.” I thought a note was the same so matter what genre of music you played, obviously not. “It’s interesting but its nothing new. If you want to get more specific with this, the east coast church language is a lot different from the west coast language.” And I bet it sounds a lot different in the South. “Oh absolutely; and, there are little dialects within that.” Now bye-bye. “I don’t want to give the impression, you’ve heard it, that this is a gospel recording by any stretch of the imagination. For me it was very inspiring to play. And like you said, it does have a real positive and uplifting vibe to it.”
Get ready to be tantalized by renowned soul singer Ali Ollie Woodson, lead singer for The Temptations during the 80s and 90s. And, R&B legend Jeffery Osborne on the same disc, it cannot get any better than that. And how did you make this happen? “You’re kind of in the right place at the right time. On the Jeffery Osborne track, Baby What I wouldn’t Do, I was going to put sax on it but it was just crying for a singer. I happen to be working with Paul Brown and he was working with Jeffery at the time and I said, ‘do you think Jeffery might be interested.’ He said, “I’ll ask him.” So, he sent him the track and in about a week’s time he was done. He wrote words to it and everything. He came over and we knocked it out in the studio pretty quick. Ali Woodson, what an amazing singer. I have always wanted to do I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know. But doing Donny Hathaway is like hallow ground. You don’t want to touch something that Donny has done unless you can do it in a different way. We considered a lot of singers and fortunately Ali was into it and he knocks it out of the park.”
buy genuine Misoprostol in the u.s.Euge launched his professional career in Miami in the mid 80s, playing in Salsa bands, top 40 club bands and doing the occasional high profile sessions date like Exposé’s Seasons Change, a #1 Billborad AC hit. He opted out of the Miami Music Scene, heading for L.A. “The Exposé thing had come out and I just wanted more. I knew I wanted to be in California and I had a friend who was living in Miami as well that wanted to be a writer. He wanted to move to California to write so we decided to move together.” Not long after he moved to L.A. in 1987, he wrote a track for Richard Elliott’s The Power of Suggestion album, and Elliott recommended Euge to take over his spot in Tower of Power. “I was the fourth sax player in that band and I played with them for four years.”
Would you say that you were acting ahead of the curve when it came to independent labels? Kind of doing your own thing with your first release, on the MP3.com website, that really got you out there? “It’s timing, you know. I’m telling you that I must have an angel on my shoulder or something because I have been very blessed with timing. It really is everything. It was just the right time with MP3.com I guess part of that is trying to anticipate where the business is going to go. I think MP3 was too far ahead with that, you know. They didn’t make it. They were the first ones to do digital distribution. I was fortunate to have had a little success there. Then Warner Brothers came along. We started to see early that they were going to close their jazz doors and asked to be released from our contract, which they did. Everybody was going ohmigod; Euge Groove got dropped. We couldn’t speak about it and not than even a month later, I signed with Narada. Not long after that Warner Brothers closed their doors and thirty-five musicians were looking for record deals. So, it was very much about timing.”
You are co-producer on this record with Paul Brown. When are you going to do your own thing and fly solo? “I almost did this time, to be honest. I actually had all the basic tracks recorded and was getting ready to put the sax to everything and I missed having Paul around.” Oh, is that right? “That is very true. So, I called him at the end. I think no one can produce the saxophone as well as he does. I came in with the songs. We did some editing together. Put the sax down and he mixed it all. I had all the basic stuff down when I came this time.”
Paul plays the guitar. Why do you think he has such a handle on the sax? I know he produced several of Boney James earlier CDs. “Right, nine or ten for him. He did four albums for Kirk Whalum, Gerald Albright, the sax players that he’s worked with is a long list. I don’t know. I think it is the way his ear goes to it. He produces the melody very well and he’s good at saying you’re done let it go. And for me I’ll go back and go ‘that note a little out of tune’. He’ll say its good a little out of tune. Let it go. That’s what co-producing is about, finding that balance.”
“The transition from supporting my family as a touring sideman to pop stars to being a solo contemporary jazz artist has been very challenging. There is real satisfaction in being able to express myself as a sax player and songwriter. Starting with the very first demo I made in 1995, the music I make is really who I am. Recording in HD, the definition and clarity is very revealing and transparent, meaning every last detail on the new album had to be just right. What I love about Born 2 Groove is that it’s got the spiritual side and the technical side living in religified harmony.” Heey, I heard that.
FYI: Every track on Born 2 Groove was road tested by, Blanch “The Golden Girl” Sebring, Euge’s Chrysler convertible. These tunes were specifically engineered to sound great from your car stereo system. Convertible top is optional. Go ahead. Ride out. It’s all good!
Euge Groove at the Ritz Theater, Jacksonville, Florida on Nov. 3, 2012