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Euge Groove: Play Date

Saxophonist Euge Groove (nee Steven Eugene Grove) finds just the right mix of cage-rattling, urban-derived rhythms and muscular, old-style sax for an euge-ly entertaining Play Date (Warner Bros.). The album opener, “Slam Dunk,” has a heavy feel, with multitracked horns that are well matched to the industrial, lumbering grooves of the genre. Groove’s hooky, hard-bopping phrases pop through his multilayered arrangements, as on the octave-hopping bass groove of “Hide and Seek” and on “From the Top,” where a meaty tenor line provides the steady center for the rhythmic swirls. Throughout the CD, Groove adds key arrangement and solo touches to distinguish his work from the NAC pack. Tight horn harmonies lift “Gonna B Alright” beyond the norm of urban-boudoir fare, and a growling, guttural lead on “Let’s Get It On” keeps the well-worn Marvin Gaye piece fresh. Though some of the tunes are slow to materialize, Groove resists the urge to overdramatize his arrangements. This decision keeps the Latin-dancing “Bella Maria” well balanced and engaging, and the gospel-tinged pop-ballad “With You I’d Believe” a stately alto showpiece.

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