Euge keeps the Groove on at Thornton

Published on September 19th, 2019

By Jim Dail

Saxman Euge Groove is busy these days performing, recording and listening.

“I still love listening to music,” he said. “I listen to new, I listen to old, and I go into different genres I might not go into with my playing. That’s what helps keep it fresh. We are a culmination of ideas that we are exposed to.”

Groove will perform with Norman Brown on Saturday at Thornton Winery as part of the 2019 Champagne Jazz Concert Series.

Born Steve Grove, he started on piano before moving on the saxophone. He played professionally with groups such as Expose, Joe Cocker, Huey Lewis, Elton John and Richard Marx, before embarking on his solo career in 2000 with the release of his “Euge Groove” album.

Nineteen years later, there’s yet another record in the works.

“I’m writing and changing a few words up,” he said. “I’m in the middle of a new project right now, album Number 12. It is hard to keep it fresh, to keep the sound where I want it but that’s the challenge.”

He has found that one key to the creativity is time.

“I’ve taken more time to write it, and if something starts to come out differently, I will take what I thought I had, throw it away and reshape it,” he said. “It’s taken a lot longer but it seems to work.”

He has the experience and longevity to draw upon.

“I’m not trying to rush it, and you can run into a thing were you do not realize that you are ripping yourself off,” he said. “Rick Braun said we write five different songs and write them in different structures. When you are young, you have these fresh idea, and as you get older you realize we are a sum of all we have accumulated. You start tapping those boundaries. Consciously or subconsciously, we revert to earlier years.”

Of course, in the early years the industry, charts and sales were a much different thing, but new or old, his albums have all done well.

“I always chart at 1, 2 or 3, but these days the numbers for sales are tremendously down a tenth or more all the way across the board,” he said. “Smooth jazz charts don’t include Apple and Spotify, whereas the pop albums do.”

The recording is certainly different as well.

“That was the thing in the earlier days because it was all organic instruments and into the 80s if you wanted different sounds, you added a sax or trumpet or French horn,” he said. “Now. It is a computer or some kind of synthesizer and you hear it all over pop music. There’s very little live playing.”

And forget much in the way of featuring the musicians.

“When’s the last time you heard a solo of any kind,” he said. “Even up to the early 80s or 90s, there was usually a guitar solo in a pop song.”

So, when It comes to his recordings, Groove is very in-tune with what he wants.

“I am looking to create hooks, and I like to create a mini-horn section,” he said. “You put the flute on top of things and it smooths up the sessions and my ears gravitate to it.”

Groove spent his early years working as a sidemen, which he believes made him the performer he is today.

“It is work just learning how to put shows together and I could see that in my role as a sideman,” he said. “It’s figuring out how to put shows together, the dynamics and how to sequence the songs,” he said. “The shows are not just thrown together. The last Tina Turner tour we did, we rehearsed for two months. I had a great view of the show from behind the dancers so I could see how everything worked.”

It also influences what he plays.

“All those guys had their own little things and I have tried over the years to incorporate some of it into my own shows,” he said. “It’s the best training in the world. There’s not as much sax in pop music, and you see the younger guys pulling stuff from other smooth jazz acts as opposed to learning from some other genres.”

A Euge Groove show features fantastic musicianship, but it is also entertaining by design.

“There’s all kinds of stuff that goes into a show,” he said. “You have to be serious, but also humorous. Last weekend, we did a show with Peter White, and he said we are kind of the Laurel and Hardy of smooth jazz. You see the smiles, and you see us playing off each other”

It’s also certainly not monotonous.

“What so cool is playing live as musicians is that there is something different, something a little different every time,” he said. “There’s the old saying that if you mess up, just do it!”

Regardless, Groove makes it look smooth, on stage or in the studio.

“That’s what a professional does, make it look easy,” he said. “I tell my wife that when I write, I write only note at a time. I have enough theory and dexterity that I can get it out of my head.”

THE SHOW

Where: Thornton Winery, 32575 Rancho California Rd. Temecula

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, September 24

Admission: General admission $85, Gourmet supper: $170

Information: Call 951-699-3021 or visit Website, www.thorntonwine.com

Reply

Comment guidelines, edit this message in your Wordpress admin panel