One Track Mind: Euge Groove, "Knock! Knock! Who's There?" (2012)

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Steven Eugene Grove aka Euge Groove, is a sax player who I see as the spiritual heir to the late George Howard: he’s not out to swing, he not out to bop and he’s definitely not out to freak out. It’s all about a sleek, accessible adult groove with Groove (get it?) , and every note out of his soprano or tenor saxophone is in service of that groove. If you came looking for wild improvisation, you might as well be shopping for BVD’s at a Victoria’s Secret because in either case, you should have known going in what it’s all about.

Euge (pronounced “huge”) Groove announces his intentions up front in his name just to make sure there is no confusion, but I think the music makes it clear enough. It’s a single-minded mission he’s performed well since his 2000 self-titled debut, and consequently, he quickly made his way to top of smooth jazz heap. His eighth CD House Of Groove bowed last week, in case you didn’t know, and it’s already the #1 jazz album on iTunes.

Given his unwavering consistency, House Of Groove is another coherent affair, with a handful of key vocal cameos by Jeffrey Osborne, Chioma and Kate Miner Moebel to break up the flow a bit. So, I’ll just pull out the opening selection “Knock! Knock! Who’s There?” to highlight what this record’s got going on.

Stream “Knock! Knock! Who’s There?” here!

Groove has this habit of starting out albums with a song having a Shakespearian theme. The heavily worked phrase “Knock! Knock! Who’s There?” originated from Macbeth, so that fits the bill. Nevertheless, there are no song-stopping knocks on this song like you’ll find on “Knock Three Times” or “Knock On Wood,” as that would only disturb this – ahem — groove. Groove invests a lot into catchy melody, and the fetching thing about this one is his five-step-up/five-steps-down note progression, followed by a soulful bridge. As a self-admitted studio tech junkie, Groove was careful not to clutter up the recording with too much instrumentation into the mix and keep the accompaniment of organ, electric piano, piano, synth wash, electric bass and drums lean and clean. That leaves his soprano sax the object of focus, which is, after all, what people who listen to a E.G. song came to hear.

Safe to say, if you dig “Knock! Knock!”, you’re sure to like most everything else that follows. Speaking of which, here’s a video of the very next song, the title track to House Of Groove:

House Of Groove went on sale September 25 by Shanachie Entertainment. Visit Euge Groove’s website for more info.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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