Euge Groove: Sunday Morning

No one in smooth jazz does the dramatic sax growl and the flutter note better than Euge Groove. There’s a modicum of that on his sixth solo CD, but Sunday Morning is mellower than usual; Groove reins in the in-your-face funk with 10 songs that cater to contemplative moods over hot coffee on … yep, Sunday morning. Groove spent a lot of time on the road, away from family, as the saxophonist on Tina Turner’s recent tour, and many of the songs were written during that period.

Groove, like any smooth-jazz saxophonist worth talking about, achieves a vibe hovering between sexy and melancholy on ballads. “The Gospel Truth” joins previous entries “The Last Song” and “Slow Jam” in the holy troika, his sax solos served over Tracy Carter’s acoustic piano, Jubu Smith’s electric guitar and strings programmed by Philippe Saisse. Groove’s wall of layered sax has never sounded better than on “Say My Name” and “Get Ready,” and co-producer Paul Brown adds guitar solos and guitar harmonies to “As You Like It.”

There are many great saxophonists playing in the smooth-jazz genre, but only a few consistently produce such harmony and feel-good hooks as Euge Groove. With Groove, the song is central and emotion trumps technical prowess. It’s what keeps Groove’s hits coming.