Fresh from the fusion triumph of A Beautiful Bang, Columbus, Ohio’s fo/mo/deep is poised to take listeners on another funky ride through the fun side of jazz. The Groovy Goodness — on sale June 3, 2014 — does a good job maintaining that good vibe fostered on the prior release without going out and mailing it in with a A Beautiful Bang, Vol. 2.
The Groovy Goodness is its own entity, marked particularly by a feel that a bit more organic and although the band’s handmade music was already too rugged to be considered your run-of-the-mill smooth jazz, Groovy is maybe a tad angular still. Led by its bassist Ron ‘FatKat’ Holmes, fo/mo/deep is completed by Dr. Keith Newton (saxophones), Andre’ Scott (drums) and Joshua Boyd (keyboards).
Funk remains the name of the game, and you’ll find sinewy grooves in “Block Party” and “Peach Cobbler” and “That Song (This Love),” where Holmes can be counted on to anchor them down with chunky, imposing bass lines while Newton’s big, impassioned tone carries the bulk of the melody with Boyd rounding it out.
“Groidology” is contemporary but connects directly to the acoustic soul-bop of the 60s, especially with the guest appearance of N.M. Goecke on trombone. “The Price of Suga'” suggests the underrated funky but lissome harmonic progression of Spyro Gyra.
A Beautiful Bang had four covers, The Groovy Goodness has just two, and these are much more obscure. “1974” is from Finnish flugelhorn specialist Jukka Eskola’s 2005 self-titled album and composed by his drummer Teppo Mäkynen. Its breezy, Brazilian vibe and the fetching melody captured on electric piano are faithfully captured by fo/mo/deep, but Newton along with former band keyboardist Kevin Jones share the lead voice. “Chasma” is a sober but pretty melody that was composed by the promising Israeli pianist Shimrit Shoshan, who died suddenly a couple of years ago at the age of 29. Boyd alone gives a tender reading of this song on acoustic piano.
A regional act with nationwide chops, poise and appeal, fo/mo/deep keeps a good thing going with The Groovy Goodness.