Never one to rest on his laurels, that consummate hit-maker, celebrated saxophonist, composer and producer Euge Groove has worked with everyone from Tina Turner, Eurythmics, Aaron Neville and Richard Marx, to Joe Cocker, Tower of Power, Huey Lewis and Luther Vandross.
Growing out of a collaboration with regular contributors Cornelius Mims and keyboard player Tracy Carter his latest project is ‘Comfort Zone’. It follows his 2020 outing ‘Sing My Song’ and is an outstanding set of ten original compositions that confirm his place at the top table of contemporary jazz sax players.
The collection is quickly up and running with the ultra smooth ‘Measure for Measure’ while in similar vein is the mildly gospel-tinged ‘Let’s Hold Hands’ that includes a splash of harmonica from Dino Soldo.
Right up there with the best that ‘Comfort Zone’ has to offer, the title cut proves to be a showcase for all that’s good about Euge’s signature sound. Unforgettable melodies, dance-inducing grooves, combustible percussive numbers and his special emphasis on crisp clean production really make this one stand out from the crowd. Talking of production, during the pandemic he really got into production in general and mastering in particular. This in turn has led him to master for the likes of Rick Braun, Vincent Ingala, Lindsey Webster, George Benson and Norman Brown.
The ultra cool ‘Crossroads’ is another Euge Groove classic in the making and much the same can be said of the easy grooving ‘Caminito’ the title of which translates to a little walkway or path leading to a decidedly blissful and serene place. Indeed blissful and serene are words that perfectly describe Euge’s style and ‘Up Close’, a tune that has been described elsewhere as being a Quiet Storm showstopper, endorses this and then some.
It evokes memories of the Anita Baker hit ‘Sweet Love’ and another track to tip a hat to a genuine soul great, and the first single to be serviced to radio, is the soulfully rhythmic ‘Junior’ for which Euge decides to go full on ‘Junior Walker’. Euge is a huge fan of this legendary Motown instrumentalist and cites him as a major influence on the way his musical career has developed.
The sweet and soulful ‘Two Bridges’ is quit simply beauty personified and Euge closes out ‘Comfort Zone’ with ‘Please Mr Groove’, a song that is loosely based on a cover of a dance club groove from the 80’s by the group One Way. The original featured a Vocoder hook that this time round is picked up and played by Richard Elliot. Also, a breakdown section in the song included a Maceo Parker style sax line which here is replicated by none other than Candy Dulfer who leaps at the chance to pay her own tribute to the music of Parker.
‘Comfort Zone’ is available everywhere from August 25 and comes highly recommended.