June 26, 2011. It was in 2000 that sax superstar Euge Groove released his Paul Brown produced self titled debut CD. Since then, despite a leave of absence in 2008 when he toured the world with Tina Turner, Euge has occupied what at times has appeared to be an almost permanent place at the top of the contemporary jazz charts. His appearance as part of the latest chapter in the Thornton Winery 2011 Champagne Jazz Series in Temecula CA provided the perfect opportunity to showcase his latest (and seventh) album, the appropriately titled ‘S7ven Large’, which has already put him right back in the smooth jazz spotlight.
Despite the blistering afternoon sunshine, Euge raised the temperature even further with the kind of funky high octane performance that makes him stand out from the crowd and in the company of the always immaculate Darryl Williams on bass, keyboard player Tracy Carter, guitarist Ross Bolton and Tony Moore on drums he mixed up the best of ‘S7ven Large’ with some of his earlier classics. An early swirl of energy was heightened by the brand new ‘The Funky Bunch’ that he merged with gems such as ‘Get Em Going’, ‘Livin Large’ and ‘XXL’ while when the set eased into its slow romantic phase Euge made full use of ‘Chillaxin’ from the ‘Just Feels Right’ collection.
Elsewhere, and in the way that Euge Groove always does best, he engaged the audience with a picture perfect interpretation of the 1975 Major Harris classic ‘Love Won’t Let Me Wait’. Taken from ‘S7ven Large’, it was a highpoint of the entire afternoon and much the same could be said of ‘From The Top’ from 2002 ‘Play Date’ which Euge used to tip a hat to his early days with Tower of Power.
‘Religify’ from the ‘Born 2 Groove’ album also went down well as did ‘Prayer 4 Peace’ which he dedicated to those in active military service and when he went to the title cut of his 2009 project ‘Sunday Morning’ the audience was reminded of the massive impact Euge Groove continues to have on the evolution of contemporary jazz.
Finally, as the shadows began to lengthen across Southern California, he closed out the show with the title tune from ‘S7ven Large’. It sent the appreciative gathering home hot, happy and looking forward to the next time that Euge Groove is in town.
Check his up coming tour schedule at www.eugegroove.com