New Band Groove Legacy Launches On a Soul-Jazz Crusade!

Groove Legacy II

Groove Legacy
Groove Legacy
(Groove Legacy)

Record Reflections by A. Scott Galloway

Having been in the music industry in one role or another since the early `80s, I’ve come to know a lot of people.  So when one trusted peer from my radio and records days invites me to a gig and then I find another trusted friend from my journalist days there – and unbeknownst to each other they are both promoting this band – the chances are that I’m in for some really good music. And I was. Such was the case when I saw Groove Legacy at Studio City’s world famous Baked Potato club for the first of what will not be the last time. With a front line of sax (Paulie Cerra)  and trombone (Andrew Lippman), they, of course, sound heavily influenced by the Jazz Crusaders (confirmed by their keyboardist named Bill Steinway), with a touch more emphasis on the rock fusion side over the soul side. Refreshingly, they weren’t clones but rather stepping stones. They were tight and the grooves lubricated knee, ankle and neck joints all around the room. My only quibble is that some of the song forms were too similar to each other…chord progressions you could feel coming a mile away. But always there was that groove. This was one of the rare occasions where I saw a band before I’d heard anything on a CD so I was quite curious to hear this.

Groove Legacy is a seven-piece band helmed by one-time jazz Crusaders sideman Steinway, bassist Travis Carlton (son of west coast guitar slinger Larry Carlton) and saxophonist Cerra. Their self-titled CD is a lovingly crafted souvenir of the live experience – all live instruments, plenty of solos all around and not one stitch of dreaded “smooth jazz.” Slip this in the deck on a Saturday morning and many chores will get gleefully done. Hit replay that night and your party will get started with maximum cool. Among the tunes is “Sweetness” (a salute to football hero Walter Peyton), “Cornell” (a churchy blues tune featuring special guest Larry Carlton dedicated to the memory of New York guitar great Cornell Dupree), “The Know it All” ( a groove waltz with guest Robben Ford sitting in on guitar), the intricate guitar funk of “Moneybags” (featuring Kirk Fletcher overdubbing lead and rhythm parts), the radio-friendly ballad “Lolly’s Dream” (an affectionate nod to Joe Sample via a take on Wayne Henderson’s  “Rainbow Visions”), ditto for the lovely “My Someday Girl,” and the CD comes to a driving close with “H-Town Hipster” on which they give the drummer some (Lemar Carter – though the out-fade on this is kinda curious…)

10 songs in all, there’s not one clunker in the bunch. And though you might swear The Crusaders have reincarnated to make that full-on reunion disc we all dreamed of, instead you get something authentically next generation – picking up the pieces with respect and love, and refracting it skyward with reverence and fire.

A. Scott Galloway
Music Editor
The Urban Music Scene
March 8, 2016

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