Smooth jazz is one of those musical styles that can often defy logic when it comes to accurately categorizing whether it fits into the realm of instrumental pop or can be classified as jazz in its most unique form. Nowadays, it becomes increasingly difficult to assess the validity of an artist who claims to be a jazz musician, especially when there is nothing distinctive about the talent of the individual being addressed. But every now and again, there comes an artist who melds into the genre of jazz with a contemporary feel that goes above and beyond the so-called smooth jazz pop ideology. Such is the perspective given to saxophonist Euge Groove, one of the rising stars in contemporary jazz, who as an artist is poised to become one of the genre’s most dominant contributors by any measure of consideration. With two releases under his belt and a host of concert and festival appearances, Euge has just released another album entitled Just Feels Right on the Narada Jazz Record Label. This time out, he comes back into the forefront of recorded music with eleven tracks of new influences, all of which are designed to add yet another dimension to the musical personality of Euge Groove.
Placing Euge Groove into the contemporary jazz category is not a stretch in my estimation because he is above and beyond the generic instrumental pop style associated with smooth jazz. Euge’s latest release has all the characteristics of contemporary jazz that can be found with that particular influence, as he strategically utilizes the impact of R&B, funk, soul and pop styles to make Just Feels Right happen. The concept revolves around 1976, considered by many to be a time of optimism and the commemoration of the United States’ bicentennial celebration, it was also the year Euge graduated from high school. He remembers the time very well as a period when the spirit of Red, White and Blue was alive and well. While writing tunes for Just Feels Right, Groove listened to any number of songs from 1976 to get a feel for his conceptualized idea. In his mind, "he let his hair grow, got some bell-bottoms and then watched the movie Boogie Nights" as a part of the planning process. The culmination of all of those efforts brought about a radical departure from his previous two releases. Without a doubt, this latest project adds credence to the notion that Groove is not a sideman waiting to be a star. On this CD, Euge carefully orchestrates some of music’s most endeared cuts with sensitivity and sound activated rhythmic harmonies. In addition, he carefully crafted his choice of musicians with the addition of Clarence McDonald, Ray Parker, Jr., David T Walker, Michael White, Freddie Washington, James Gadsen, Lenny Castro, Tony Maiden, Paul Brown and Robert Valley. Guitarist Paul Brown even went another further on Just Feels Right by helping Euge produce the CD. The significance of choosing his sidemen bears the fruit of his intent, no electronics or false incantations were allowed. He only wanted real musicians for this project that is filled with good vibrations.When listening to Just Feels Right, Euge Groove goes on a musical journey dominated by rhythmic adventures and melodic overtures. The percussive and harmonic touches placed upon such tracks as Get Em Goin’, Chillaxin and Straight Up add a toe-tapping appeal when needed, while Just My Imagination and Ballerina Girl are tracks that provide time for more reflective moments. When Groove took a year and a half to release his latest effort, it was time well spent. In my estimation, this is a CD for the palates of both smooth as well as contemporary jazz connoisseurs who are looking for something that is above the commonality of generic instrumental pop.