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Euge Groove: Born 2 Groove

Euge Groove’s fifth CD in seven years veers sharply from his fourth, which vaguely dabbled in ’70s soul and rock. Groove hired old-school musicians for that project. For Born 2 Groove, his first recorded in high-definition audio, the saxophonist decided to hold down the rhythm section with musicians schooled in gospel music: keyboardist Tracy Carter, guitarist Jubu Smith, drummer Trevor Lawrence and bassist Cornelius Mims, who is also Groove’s fulltime music director. The result is not a gospel CD. The result is a Euge Groove smooth-jazz CD given a fresh new sound by an invigorating new crew, not the same old standbys. Musicians, take note.

Co-produced once again by Groove and Paul Brown, Born 2 Groove shows the saxophonist’s creativeness is only getting better with age. Sure, there are the trademark Euge-isms: the saxophone growl, the sustained note at the beginning of a song. But it’s the omnipresent hooks and the inspired soloing that make it a top-notch smooth-jazz sax CD. It’s nigh impossible not to bump into R&B sax CDs at each turn, and Born 2 Groove is the rare bird that’s smooth but based on rock, pop and, yes, gospel. “Slow Jam” is a highlight, a dizzyingly beautiful ballad on par with a gem titled “Last Song” on his debut CD in 2000. And the title track is a barnburner on par with his most exhilarating uptempo hits: “Get ‘Em Goin’,” “Livin’ Large” and “Rewind.”

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