THE SMOOGIES are a new age jazz ensemble hailing from South Florida. They are – Vaughn Henry (keys), Dion Kerr (bass) Harvel Nakundi (drums) and David Chiverton (drums). All are formally trained musicians and between them they’ve worked with people like Lauryn Hill, Snarky Puppy, Nicholas Payton, Ghost Note, Cris Cab and Emmet Cohen to name a few. And the name? Well, the team describe their music as “a musical smoothie blended with a lot of culture, life experience and most certainly “a vibe” … “Smoogies”… geddit?

Jazz fans might already know them via their exposure on The Chivertone Sessions – a digital jazz outlet run by drummer David Chiverton and right now the Smoogies are busy (or as busy as the pandemic will allow) promoting a full album – the seven tracker that is ‘Planet Smoogies’.

The collection was heralded by the single, ‘Violet’ – a concise, melodic workout with a funk undertow that’s enhanced by guest Nicholas Payton’s muted horn which, in places evokes the spirit of Donald Byrd. Payton features on four more tracks – the lengthy opener, ‘Pay Up’, the smoother ‘Panera Bounce’, the complex, cinematic, spaced out ‘Blender Spaceship’ (with vocoded effects from Vaughn Henry) and the beautiful, building, ballad ‘Hope Is Valid’ – an album highlight and sentiment, I’m sure, we all share for 2021!

The two remaining tracks are the meandering ‘Trapanova’ and the brisk and crisp ‘Colourful Himalayas’ where the reference point could be Bob James or Dave Grusin…  a lovely 6 minutes worth.

THE SMOOGIES; Planet Smoogies is out now