Narada Jazz has such an abundance of mega-talent that I often wonder what attractant they use (besides money, of course) in their record deals and contracts. I can think of such a huge number of artists off the top of my head, and the list keeps growing. None generates more electricity and hard-edged funk in such abundance as the now incredibly famous saxman originally from my neck of the country (MD), Steve Grove, aka Euge Groove. Whether he’s on stage or performing in the studio, you never have any doubt of the energy and sheer enjoyment he derives from his craft. It’s not only obvious, but extremely contagious! His latest album Born 2 Groove (a concise and absolutely appropriate description of the man and his music) is, in my opinion, his best to date, and that’s saying a lot, considering I own and love all of his work.
His past projects always contained a rash of good sweaty and soulful crowd-pleasing pieces that either set up or followed a monster smash. Case in point: "Sneak-a-Peek" was undoubtedly, in my mind, the single on his debut self-titled CD, although he also ended that one with the absolutely beautifully sad "The Last Song." Just Feels Right built to the boiling point of "Get Em Goin’," which just resulted in a massive, collective meltdown among smooth jazzers. On Born 2 Groove, it just seems that there are so many monster smashes that you’re in that constant state of unadulterated funk or euphoric "night love," each cut so masterfully conceived and composed. Examples? "Mr. Groove," which sounds at the onset like "Sneak- A-Peek" getting revved up all over again, then heads a little toward the "Get ‘Em Goin’" hook, so you get a bit of both in this still-original piece.
From there, you are gently ushered to the softer "Café del Soul" and "Slow Jam," a powerful lights-down-low piece, only to be grabbed by the hook-heavy "Born 2 Groove" and "Religify" and the slower, but still funky-as-all-get-out "Geez Spot" (along with hefty, tell-tale hooks, this guy definitely holds the crown for song titles, doesn’t he?). Then come the killer vocals of former Temptations lead singer Ali "Ollie" Woodson on a stirring remake of the classic "I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know" and Jeffrey Osborne on "Baby If You Only Knew," a bold promise to the object of his affection of his lovemaking capabilities. Turn on the air conditioning! Euge is back with a vengeance!