The Groovechasers: Dig a Little Deeper (2002)
It would be hard to find a more appropriate title for this album of original compositions by a group of relatively unknown, but obviously talented, British musicians. With its mixture of acoustic and electronic instruments and use of soul, funk and Latin rhythms, the inspiration seems to be very much the jazz of the ‘70s and ‘80s - Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Crusaders and Weather Report all spring to mind. But, as the title implies, this album also “digs a little deeper” into jazz history and we are constantly aware of echoes of the past – a flavour of New Orleans in some of the solos, a hint of Ellington or Mingus in the arrangements and, always in the background, the voice of the blues
“Feels Like Coming Home”, features New Orleans influenced piano and saxophones plus laid-back wah guitar over a soul jazz rhythm, while “Move Over Mr. B” manages to carry off 7/4 time with great panache and features a soprano sax solo which swings like the proverbial two parts of a dogs anatomy! “Simple Soulman” and the title track “Dig A Little Deeper” take us into jazz funk territory, albeit with a distinct blues flavour to the excellent guitar, bass and sax solos.
Then there’s what Jelly Roll Morton referred to as “the essential Spanish tinge” captured here in the lazy Caribbean rhythms of “Same Old Broad”, the evocative “Midnight On The Bayou” and in the more urgent pulse of “Voodoo Dance” and the Buena Vista inspired “Rondo Alphonso” (written as a tribute to the legendary Jamaican saxophonist Rolando Alphonso.)
The album is blessed with those essential jazz qualities ,warmth and feeling. The two sax men, John Elmer and Fred Cogger both possess the kind of personal tone and ability to swing which suggest an affinity with the past masters of the art, and Andy Walls, on keyboards, moves effortlessly from rolling New Orleans, to latin, to Joe Sample inspired funk.
Guitar honours go mainly to John Bowles, who solos to great effect on both electric and acoustic, and lays down some superb rhythm grooves, while engineer/producer Richard Studholme briefly puts on his guitarists hat and provides a taste of the blues.
Meanwhile, down in the engine room, Bryan Chattam and Tony Harlow do exactly what’s required, with Bryans’ steady-as-a-rock drums providing the perfect foil to Tony’s Pastorious inspired bass grooves.
More info: http://www.mp3.com/groovechasers
Track Listing: 1 Feels Like Coming Home 2 Move Over Mr B 3 Simple Soulman 4 Same Old Broad 5 Voodoo Dance 6 Dig a Little Deeper 7 Midnight on the Bayou 8 Rondo Alphonso
Personnel: John Bowles electric & accoustic guitars Bryan Chattam drums & percussion Fred Cogger alto & tenor sax John Elmer Soprano,alto & tenor sax Tony Harlow bass guitar Andy Walls keyboard Richard Studholme (guest) electric guitar
Record Label: Jazz Connections