‘House Of Groove’ is Euge Groove’s eighth solo album and as with the previous seven, the Maryland sax man is responsible for all the writing, the arranging and the production. What’s more he also programmed all of the ten cuts and apart from playing all the sax parts (tenor and soprano) he also contributes flute and Hammond B3 throughout. The album was recorded in Groove’s own southern California studio, ‘The Groove House’, and the music he’s crafted there is full of the sunshine and warmth associated with the sunshine state. Hear it at its very best on the lovely ‘Fellowship Hall’ – a sax-led instrumental built on a tight soul groove featuring some great piano from Tracy Carter. The melody line here is particularly strong. There’s more of the same on ‘Lampin”, and ‘Faithful Central’ while the best of the slowies is the sultry ‘Indian Summer’. Clocking in at just over seven minutes, it comes on like the Quincy Jones’ classic ‘Secret Garden’. Sadly some of the other instrumentals (I’m thinking ‘Knock , Knock Who’s There’) stray into the land of Kenny G/Najee bland but those down moments are more than compensated for by two outstanding vocal cuts.
First up there’s ‘Never Met A Woman Like You’ which features good ol’ Jeffery Osborne, whose unique vocal approach is perfectly suited to the song… a tight, mid-tempo modern soul groove. Euge’s sax weaves around his vocal and the cut is an excellent example of how smooth jazz and modern soul can perfectly complement each other when the protagonists understand what they’re about. Different again is the ballad, ‘It’s Only Rain’. Again the reference point is Quincy Jones and his song ‘You Put A Move On My Heart’. Here young New York vocalist Chioma outdoes Tamia in creating a sweet but dramatic innocence imbuing the cut with a soulful shimmer. The album’s other big vocal is ‘God Bless You’ featuring Kate Milner Moebel. From the title you’d be right in guessing that it has a hymn-like quality but it lacks the soulful drive of the other two vocal cuts. It’s a little too “polite”… but I guess there’s a section of the smooth jazz fraternity who dig “polite”. They won’t be disappointed by ‘House Of Groove’ … there’s plenty for them here; but enough too for those who like their smooth with a proper soul undertow.