Sept. 15, 2015
Groove Ltd., the collaborative brainchild of renowned French c-jazz/funk guitarist U-Nam and the lovely up-and-coming saxtress Shannon Kennedy, has come up with some heavyweight grooves with its mighty debut release First Class.
Packed with funk, lots of snap, and soulful rhythms, the album touches that smooooth nerve that resides in c-jazzers. Tracks like the infectious head-boppin’ and busy lead and title track, as well as the catchy up-tempo “Uprising” — which features keyboardist Jonathan Fritzen – show off U-Nam at his usual top-tier best and allows Kennedy to shine ever so brightly on sax.
Speaking of Kennedy, her gritty tenor sax offering on “Pheromones,” truly one of my faves here, gets down into the very depths of one’s soul and really moves things around in there. Not an easy track to blow by at all. With U-Nam’s bluesy accompaniment, the tune sails on wings bound for the upper stratos.
Along with Fritzen’s contribution, the duo invites help from star songstress Maysa, percussionist Paulinho de Costa, steel drums master Andy Narell, and a host of others.
If you like that slow, sultry groove led by a sexy sax, “Lovedrive” awaits your ears. Dripping with that midnight feel, it’s a track definitely tailor-made for lovers.
Maysa teams up with the duo on a funky mid-tempo goody that she also co-wrote with U-Nam called “It’s Alright Now.” It’s one of those unforgettable tracks designed to work you…and it does. It also features Narell and his trademark steel pan sound.
Another steady mid-tempo funk-laden groove is “Summer Nights” (another one of my faves). Oh yeah, you will move to this one…guaranteed. The two definitely create a contagious jam session with this sizzler.
In all, thirteen rock-solid gems are paraded here, and one would be terribly hard-pressed to deny that the power of the jazz/funk/soul vibe is not present in pleasant abundance on this project. First Class effort indeed. – Ronald Jackson