Groove is the sense of propulsive rhythm or sense of swing created by the interaction of the music played by a band’s rhythm section (drums, electric bass or double bass, guitar, and keyboards); and Biblically speaking, the number 8 represents perfection. Groove8, the Jazz Fusion band formerly known as Audioform, is all of that. The band recently dropped its latest studio recording, aptly titled “Debut.” Racially and culturally diverse and defining itself as Acid Jazz/Funk, its name and music tell the truth. Groove8 has the booming horns of Tower of Power tempered by a funky R&B sensibility that transcends labeling. Their sound is a sultry blend of R&B, Latin, Rock, Funk, and Soul– all rooted in a Jazz base.
“The Dream” features crooner Mac McClain trying to capture elusive love in an Earth, Wind, and Fire inspired cut. The lyrics are pure poetry: “The morning sun fills up the sky/’cause dark of night has said goodbye/The dream that held me through the night/is just as strong in broad daylight/The dream, it fills me with your charms/giving me the strength to continue on.” The singer’s raw, sweet voice strains; reflecting a lover’s desperation and soars with the Brazilian flavored melody lead by the keyboard and drums that conjures up images of “Black Orpheus” and touches the insecure lover in each of us. Drumming, sometimes reminiscent of a ticking clock and other times marking the Bossa nova beat of this mid-tempo ballad, subtly holds the joint together. The trumpet solo is the star of this tune–mellow, sexy and lending an earthiness to the purity of the lyrics and a lustiness to the singers innocence.
“Bourbon Street’s” sexy striptease high-hat and trumpet opening evokes images of the catacombs of The Big Easy’s smoky dives entombing unknown world-class musicians, watered down whiskey, and fascinating drunks pontificating at the bar of a strip joint. The solid brass section jolts us to present day New Orleans, home of the Huge Ass Beer and the Superbowl winning Saints. Wave after wave of sax, and more sax, splash over the listener like relentless neon lights. The keyboard mimics the ebb and flow of the Mississippi, waxing in and out of the musical tapestry with perfect timing and just the right touch. Fade to closing, the high-hat and trumpet opening are repeated and slowly, as the music fades, you’re not at the carnal carnival known as Bourbon Street anymore, but what a ride it was.
The best cut, “Groove Brew”, has a deceptively soft, silky intro, a few guitar licks, a drum roll and BAM! The keyboard and horns swirl into a cacophony of lush, ripe notes followed by a perky sax solo that brings the brew to a feverish boil. Infusions of deft keyboarding couple with delicate brushes of the high-hat and BAM! The sax is off and running in a second solo– sexy, smoldering, climaxing in an addictive hook. “Groove Brew” ends all too soon with a drum flourish that startlingly drops off into silence. This track is the essence of Fusion Jazz with its improv feeling and Rock, Funk and Latin beats living together in perfect harmony.
Reminiscent of early Spyro Gyra, infused with a little Soul and sass, “Debut” is solid and sophisticated. The tracks are arranged in a balanced flow, alternating boisterous with more blissful offerings resulting in a playful, intelligent, intriguing and energetic cornucopia of Jazz. Add bit of editing at the end of “Bourbon Street” and on the vocals in “The Dream” and this is as polished, poised, and poppin’ as any Jazz Fusion offering on the planet. Even the hip cats digging Coltrane and Miles will find this head bopping, toe tapping Jazz hybrid irresistible. Give Groove8 a listen at www.groove8.com or www.myspace.com/groove8music. Groove on Groove8!