RC & The Groovediggers is the creation of guitarist Royce Campbell. Their debut release, ‘Right Now’, is the first smooth jazz CD from Campbell’s own label Moon Cycle Records and the musicians he has gathered together for it add hugely to the albums overall quality. Bass man J T Brown tours with Mary Chapin Carpenter, keyboard player Butch Taylor works with the Dave Mathews Band and two of the horn players, Bobby Read and John D’Earth, play with Bruce Hornsby. These performers and others too play their part throughout yet central to it all is Campbell himself. His mainstream jazz roots and the stints he has had as sideman to Quincy Jones, Marvin Gaye, Henry Mancini and The Fifth Dimension come together and enable him to bring his vast experience to this project for which he has written and produced all ten tracks. He also plays great guitar and demonstrates this early on with the mellow and melodic title track that is the first single to be released to radio.
Despite his own obvious talent Campbell also has a skill in generously sharing the musical lead between his fellow Groovediggers. Keith Willingham’s trumpet blends beautifully with the tenor sax of Skip Gailes on the comfortable and mid tempo ‘Sweetener’ while the band combines to excellent effect with the relaxed ‘Kiss And Tell’. Just as impressive in this respect is the happy but gentle ‘Hollywood’. Making full use of the stellar horn section Campbell uses the tune to prove that this mid tempo vibe is something that the Groovediggers handles well. Later, when Campbell steps center stage for ‘Sunny Disposition’, his understated yet jazzy guitar links seamlessly with a handsome keyboard solo from Butch Taylor that epitomizes the title of the song. The tempo quickens a little for ‘Night Fest’. Its a tune that turns out to be a real piece of feel good music and, with Skip Gailes outstanding on flute, is the perfect backdrop to a party on a moonlit beach.
Campbell is again prominent on the gentle love song ‘Liana’. It is blessed by the soprano sax of Ron Diehl and when the Groovediggers get down for the mellow ‘Tell Me When’ they capture the melody and rhythm that is present in all great smooth jazz. A contender for best track on the album is the edgy ‘Smooth Talk’. The ultra smooth sax of Bobby Read helps make this a real radio contender for the future but just shading it as Smooth Jazz Therapy top track is ‘Shadows (In The Dark)’. With a catchy hook running right through it and an appealing piano introduction from Louis Sherr that segues into the cool soprano sax of Ron Diehl this makes for a sophisticated, evocative and memorable tune.
With ‘Right Now’ Royce Campbell has produced a collection of interesting, sometimes moving but always original smooth jazz. For this he is to be commended. Certainly, in the current climate, where the landscape is routinely scattered with a plethora of covers, there should always be a place for new music and for a band of the quality of RC & The Groovediggers.
For more go to www.roycecampbell.com