For centuries, music has been utilized throughout the globe for its therapeutic and cathartic properties. Chart-topping multi-instrumentalist, Euge Groove, one of the most sought after musicians on the scene, taps into the power of music’s innate abilities on his third Shanachie Entertainment recording, House of Groove.
Euge Groove shares, “In all that is going on in everyone's lives, my own included, I hope people can remove themselves and connect with the emotions of where I was coming from when writing this album. It's far too easy to get caught up on the dark side of things going on all around us. I hope that the music’s positive vibe reaches people.”
A quadruple threat - the saxophonist, composer, producer and DJ has built an impressive career as a free spirit who remains true to his own artistic vision. It is no wonder the charismatic saxophonist has been able to record a string of #1 hits and garner a devoted following. His wide ranging musical tastes, impeccable musicianship and keen showmanship have planted him on world tours with such icons as Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Famer Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Eros Ramazotti, Richard Marx, Tower of Power, and Huey Lewis and the News.
House of Groove, Euge Groove’s eighth recording as a leader, is a revealing glimpse into the creative forces that influence the dynamic musician and the physical space where his creative ideas flourish - The Groove House, where he lives and records in Southern California. “It was a friend that pointed out that he thought the album was written in my happy place,” shares Euge. “I am very happy right now. That's not to say I don't have stress and anxiety. But at almost 50 years young, I think I've better learned how to separate worrying about things I can change and not worrying about those I can't. I'm not apathetic but I just try to keep it in perspective.” The down to earth musician’s Zen perspective is humorously reflected in his email signature that reads, “I will no longer be accepting bad news on Fridays. If you must deliver bad news, please do so on the following Monday. Your attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.”
House of Groove showcases ten sublime originals that underscore why Euge Groove is a master of conjuring rich emotion and melody. The self-professed techie loves to stay abreast of the emerging studio gear and believes that you have to wholly commit yourself to the recording process to allow its musical direction to evolve organically. “With each album I can more comfortably lock myself in my studio and put everything I have into the process,” confides Euge. “I love getting new recording tools as they come out. I think being one with the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is essential these days. The creativity is instant. It's not filtered through someone else. You don't have to compromise anything. It's liberating.” His approach to the recording process is one of patience and intuition. “I’ve learned over the years you can't force anything. When the music starts to take on its own direction, you have to be willing to just ride with,” shares the consummate artist who also moonlights as a DJ. Euge programs all the tracks on House of Groove and is featured on the tenor and soprano saxophones, flute and Hammond B3. He is joined by a solid cast of musicians including pianist and keyboardist Tracy Carter, bassist Cornelius Mims, guitarists Paul Brown and John “Jubu” Smith, drummers Trevor Lawrence and Dan Needham, percussionist Lenny Castro and trumpeter Lee Thornberg.
House of Groove was recorded over an eighth month period. “While I was making this recording, I spent most of the time by myself immersed in the music. This album will be a success to me if the intimacy I felt making this album translates to my fans who listen to and experience this music.” shares Euge.
The saxophonist’s new album opens with the jubilant and lyrical “Knock! Knock! Who’s There?,” which sets the tone for a thrilling musical foray. The inspiration for the opener might not be so obvious as it draws upon the influence of a famous English poet and playwright. “I have a habit of naming my opening songs after something from Shakespeare. It goes back to my very first album in Y2K. I had written the first track on that album a few years earlier while I was on tour in Italy,” explains Euge Groove. “I had a few days off in Verona, which was the home of Romeo and Juliet. I visited the balcony and rubbed the bronze breast of Juliet for good luck. The whole experience left an impression on me. So when I got back to my hotel room, I wrote the song Romeo and Juliet. This latest one is ‘Knock Knock who's there?’ Which is from ‘Macbeth.’ Which is what started all the knock knock jokes oddly enough!” The album’s title track and new single is a soulful number highlighting Euge’s big burly tenor caressing a funky swing groove. The song pays homage to Euge’s home base and recording studio that fuels his creative energy. “I really feel the songs on this album capture the spirit and energy that friends and family bring to the Groove House.”
The feel good vibe permeates House of Groove with songs like “Fellowship Hall” featuring Euge’s ethereal soprano and “Lampin’ It,” which opens with the buttery Fender Rhodes of Tracy Carter and then unfolds into Euge’s sensuous serenading tenor. Also included is “Old.edu (Old School)” which beautifully summons an old school 70s ‘get on the dance floor’ kind of feel. “I've never done a song with that old school four on the floor beat, so that's what I went for on this. I slapped a huge Euge layered sax section on it and it just felt great!” exclaims the reedman.
A special highlight on House of Groove is an unforgettable duet with celebrated R&B crooner Jeffrey Osborne called “Never Met a Woman Like You,” which Osborne co-wrote. The dynamic duo delivers a riveting performance. Euge shares, “I wanted to give Jeffrey a track reminiscent of his LTD days. He just nails the vibe on this one. It's a fun song. It's always important for me that when there is a vocal song on an instrumental album, that the sax isn't an afterthought. I think writing it from the ground up with that in mind makes for a better collaboration.”
Euge invites two additional singers to collaborate on House of Groove, young New York based singer/songwriter Chioma who co-wrote the ballad “It’s Only Rain” and Kate Miner Moebel, who is featured on the moving gospel tinged and country inflected ballad “God Bless You.” When Euge wrote the lyrics to “God Bless You,” Kate’s voice immediately came to mind. “I got in touch with Kate who used to lead the worship music at a church I went to years ago. I always remembered her voice. She sounds like an angel on it.” A master at creating timeless ballads, Euge’s dreamy “Indian Summer” is another standout. House of Groove also features the heart-warming and tender gospel number “Faithful Central.” “After I finished cutting this song, the guys were doing this dance and I asked them what they were doing, and they said they were doing the choir dance from Faithful Central,” recalls Euge. “Faithful is a big church out here where pianist Tracy Carter is one of the music directors. He just put his church vibe into the song, and I had to honor where it came from. It just feels very honest.”
Born Steven Eugene Grove in Hagerstown, Maryland, Euge Groove grew up in a musical home. His mother played piano and taught the Cherub choir at Christ Lutheran Church and he began his own musical pursuits at the age of seven, piano and adding the saxophone at nine. But for Euge it was in elementary school where he discovered that music was his calling. “In fifth grade I thought I'd be in school band the rest of my life.” He later discovered two saxophonists who had a profound affect on his approach to playing.
“One was French classical player Marcel Mule, who really defined what the sax was supposed to sound like for me and the other was David Sanborn. He took that sound and brought it into the mainstream world,” reminisces the worldly saxophonist. Through the years, Euge’s love of jazz, R&B, gospel and blues have all come together to inform his personalized sound.
He explains “I've listened to everyone from Grover (Washington Jr.) and (David) Sanborn to (Charlie) Parker and (John) Coltrane as well as (Michael) Brecker, (Stan) Getz, King Curtis, Junior Walker, Richard Elliott and Kirk Whalum. The thing is, the more mature we become the more those influences fuse into something new. I always listened to a lot of R&B growing up, fused that with pop music, then with the gospel music. Hopefully all of these influences come through in my music and I am able to create my own unique expression.”
Euge Groove concludes, “I've had a crazy blessed life and career. In a way, I feel like the hardest thing is just trying to keep it all going. There is a lot of intensity in this business with things coming at you from all directions. I just like to take it all one step at a time and enjoy the moment. To paraphrase Bill Withers, while your on your way to greatness, take a minute to look around and enjoy where you are. Because that spot might be pretty OK.”