Jim Love & The Blue Groove
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Jim Love & The Blue Groove


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The best kept secret in music


"Gather 'Round CD review"

This jazz band of four comes from Philadelphia and the players are Jim Love on drums, Ray Clemens on bass, Seth Meicht on horn and Andrew Hatch on guitar. I think these guys have put together a real gutsy project.

I don't think they've made too many wrong moves on this one, either. It is strong. It is good solid music and there is something special in the composition that steams their brand right on the music. This is their sound. They aren't afraid to push limits and yet they stay firmly inside their own set of musical boundaries.

My sense of Gather 'Round is that even while they are innovating they remain faithful and sensitive to the listener. The CD is not a selfish act of attempted brilliance. It is good music that turns corners but the players blend well and have remembered the big picture in their choice of tunes. And, for the most part, the sound is professional. The only problem was track 9. It became a question mark as it began to quiver around the middle of the track and then cut out. I waited ... but nothing. Since the title was "Johannesburg," I though maybe it's a tribute to the tragic story. But I had to switch to track 10, a vocal number with the title of the CD in the lyrics. Called "Sunday School," the song encourages us to "gather 'round." The female's voice is great -- deep and smooth.

"There's No Sound" is a piece that might be my first lesson in truly appreciating a horn. Each of the players take a turn doing something beautiful.

The bonus track might surprise you, might irritate you, but because these guys have proved themselves over and over by this point in the album, for me it was simply an interesting cut.

There's a lot of talent and hard work in this and a lot to appreciate. If you have jazz in your heart, I think this CD is a worthy companion.

-written by Virginia MacIsaac
- Rambles

"Gather 'Round CD review"

Jim Love & The Blue Groove are a wonderful fusion of jazz, hip-hop, and funky beats all blended into a phenomenal collection of sweet urban fusion jazz. I enjoyed each track especially the vocals of Raina Frey; she added a very refreshing and enjoyable sound to the entire collection.

The album opens with a very up beat funky track but soon mellows down in all the right places. Everyone will surely have their favorite cut on the album, and it is definitely worth adding to your jazz CD collection, don't sleep on this one.

Reviewed by: Lisa Howard - JazzReview.com

"Gather 'Round CD review"

This is a jazz-filled, fast-paced CD that highlights the skill of the musicians rather than appearing dependent on electronic mastery. The production is centred on Jim Love and his drumming, but whilst always in the forefront his playing is used to construct a structure for the pieces, rather than overshadow. The tracks are generous, allowing the listener time to enter the spirit of the piece before moving on. This CD is the well-produced work of a band that has the confidence and group knowledge to both lead and follow.

The style is fast, modern jazz with a few traditional influences thrown in. The tracks vary from the experimental ‘Parapeat’ which occasionally teeters on the brink of disorder but never quite falls, through the more ordered ‘Split Hairs’ with its slower more bluesy feel to ‘There’s No Sound’ a drum-led slow movement where the instrumentalists enter one by one to produce a rounded, smooth-jazz showpiece.

‘Sweet Attitude’ contains more attitude than sweetness, but is complex, satisfying and upfront, led by some well-balanced sax from Seth Meicht and neat guitar by Andrew Hatch. Lucas Brown’s Hammond organ is worth listening out for on this track. In ‘The Blue Groove’ jazz meets disco at the hands of DJ Dstar with some superlative sax again from Seth Meicht. This is a particularly rich, progressive, well-rounded track. Listen out for the jazz-gospel ‘Sunday School’ with Raina Frey, a fun piece with background chatter and a beat that would produce at least a foot tap from the most traditional churchwarden.

In short this CD is highly enjoyable well-balanced progressive jazz and is eminently listenable. If you want entertaining, uplifting jazz I recommend this.

Reviewed by Jill Tardivel
- Jazz Views

"Gather 'Round CD review"

Jim Love is a Pennsylvanian drummer whose prior recording, The Way of the Drum (Wyndfall, 2001), impressed us here a couple of years ago. His new unit, the Blue Groove, is a stout quartet performing original jazz material with a current edge. This one is hard to categorize but easy to get into.

Love is an excellent rhythmic catalyst who brings a nice sense of variety to the selections here. His hot New Orleans beat on ?Mayan Blues? is especially appealing, and on ?There?s No Sound? he tumbles and punches behind the other musicians as they play a slow lament. Guitarist Andrew Hatch and bassist Raymond Clements are well-chosen partners who blend well with Love and saxophonist Seth Meicht. The tenorman is strong in tone and style but seems to be mixed a bit too loudly at times, throwing off the balance just a bit. All in all, the ensemble locks in together nicely and the solos are well-done.

DJ Dstar appears on three tracks, making effective use of his turntables on ?Blue Groove? but getting a bit lost in the mix on ?Bricolage.? There are more turntables on the closing track, but it wouldn?t play properly on any of my machines. Perhaps the disc was too full of music? I don?t think it was meant to sound that way; if it was, then the experiment didn?t work. ?Parapeat? begins with free group improv, followed by bit of Aylerish lyricism from Meicht before the funky ensemble theme arrives. ?Sunday School? is a hand-clap gospel tune featuring vocalist Raina Frey and ?congregational? back-up. The other selections are workman-style modern jazz tunes that provide just the right material for this tight unit.

By Todd S. Jenkins - All About Jazz

"Gather 'Round CD review"

"A mastermind of Jazz evolution, taking Jazz to the next level through urban beats and hep-cat swing." - From the Blue Groove press handout.

* One of the things that I really like about "Gather 'Round" is what a funky album it is. The combination of Seth Meicht's melodic sax work, Andrew Hatch's mellow guitar, Ray Clemens' fluid bass lines and Jim Love's rock solid drumming lift this recording off the ground and into the stratosphere.

* The album's opening tracks are fast paced and full of melody. Seth's sax playing being part particularly to the fore. Track 4 "Split Hairs" is a slower piece and a nice contrast to the preceding numbers. It's on the next song however that the band really lets its collective hair down. "Sweet Attitude" really motors along, powered by some excellent drumming from Jim. Special mention should go to guests Mike DiFebbo & Lucas Brown for their performances on this track. "Parapeat" opens with a mass of discordant sax, guitar and bass playing before settling down into a repeated sax figure. The track then blossoms into a full-scale workout with everyone contributing some fine instrumental breaks. "Bricolage" is a more laid-back piece, again featuring excellent sax work from Seth. "Tempest Reign" is altogether punchier and "Johannesburg" has some fine gutsy guitar work from Andrew and a brilliant bass solo from Ray. The only track with vocals "Sunday School" is next up - Raina Frey's singing adding another dimension to the arrangements. The lengthy "There's No Sound" begins quietly with laidback sax, bass, guitar and drums, developing into a series of solo spots featuring each of the main band members. The final track "Ready For The Action" has guest performer DJ Dstar to the fore and yet again adds a nice contrast to the other material.

* "Gather 'Round" contains much that is traditional in Jazz, where it differs is in the band's use of modern rhythms. There's much to enjoy here and all the musicians featured can be proud of their work. The group as a whole is a tight unit, playing well together musically feeding off each other. As the band's press hand-out says, "Gather 'Round and be prepared to get your groove on!"

Star Rating - ****

Written by - Dave Walmsley
- Fair Oaks Online

"Gather 'Round CD review"

This is definitely a marketable, real ‘groove’ oriented sound, with a subtle, sophisticated fusion jazz quality. There is a real strong statement in the beginning from the bassist, who launches the ensemble. The drums punch, drive and set the groove on its course, with spinning, pervasive sounds from the turntables. The Hammond organ is on top of the beat, adding crisp pulses that accentuate the rhythm section with real flair and precision. The tenor sax plays the melodic exposition and has a real smooth sound, yet the phrasing is a little too fluid and the attack needs more emphasis. Since this is the melodic exposition, it should be sharp and tight stylistically. The guitar player,uses space in a very interesting, floating, ‘lost time' kind of way. The guitar and organ are on a deserted island, surrounded by the 'groove' sea, a distinctive stylistic contrast.
The band has found a marketable niche for themselves, very ‘Madeski, Martin and Wood’. I know everyone says that because of the Hammond organ, but clearly this is a fusion sound in that vein. The melodic structure works well within the chord framework, all hits and stops are tight and these musicians read each other well. The form is strongly adhered to throughout and there are well-executed solos by all.
When I am distracted, I think this music is better. If I were a bar or club owner, I would book them because there is a cool, lounge quality here, great for mainstream audiences. When I really focus on the music, I want there to be something more,less contrived, with greater musical intensity. The scratching turntable adds mainly a filler texture and perhaps is not as progressive in a post-modernist era. This recording reminds of a live performance of Bella Fleck and the Flecktones, live at the Montreal Jazz Festival, 1998. Solid over all bass/drum/guitar grooves, with a smooth sexy veneer.

By - Todd Brunel - God's of Music


*Guerrilla Groove - 2005
Independently released

*Gather 'Round - 2003
Wyndfall/Dreamscape Records


Feeling a bit camera shy


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