PRESS RELEASE Euge Groove perfectly describes the jazz/R&B/pop perfection of saxophonist Steven Eugene Grove. Having preceded his self-titled debut record on Warner Bros. Records with a No. 1 jazz hit on the Internet, Euge Groove is making an enormous musical statement faster than you can say point, click and download. Already, in just a few short months, he has built a base of over 100,000 streaming fans. With a debut recording in the Top 6 of any and all genres on Mp3.com, Euge not only captured the top jazz spot, but a slot on their weekly top 40 charts.
Besides the gigantic response to his music in concert and online and grooves that stretch from jazz through R&B/urban classical, pop and back again, how does one get a name like Euge Groove? Steve Grove's professional appellation had its genesis in family humor and frequent mispronunciation. His in-laws shortened his middle name Eugene to "Euge" (pronounced with a long u sound, as in "you" with a j on the end) and when he toured Europe, his last name frequently was transformed from Mr. Grove to Mr. Groove, hence Euge Groove. "It's kind of an alter ego. It's easy being Steve Grove, but it's really hard being Euge Groove."
Born in Hagerstown, Maryland, Groove began his ascent toward musical notoriety and Internet stardom in second grade, when he started playing piano, taking his mother's lead - she taught the children's choir. "I always knew I wanted to play music. I started playing sax when I was nine or ten years old and immediately took a liking to it," Groove affirms.
Although Euge Groove listened to everything from urban to pop to big band and country, his playing didn't reflect this cornucopia of sounds: "My teacher was strictly classical. I had played nothing but classical concertos and sonatas, either transcribed for sax or written for sax. I worshipped Marcel Mule, the French classical saxophonist - he was absolutely brilliant. He made the sax sound like a cello.
After arriving at the university Of Miami's progressive and innovative School Of Music, he developed an appreciation for jazz, "when I saw there were 65 sax majors and you know, 64 of them were playing in the jazz band." Eventually he discovered David Sanborn. "This was the coolest thing because he had this really classical tone - his vibrato, his intonation, everything was from a very classical standpoint. He had this beautiful pure sound and it was the link between the pop world and the classical world that I was living in. I just worshipped him. Any record that he did that I could get my hands on, I'd transcribe and listen to over and over. Then I discovered Junior Walker."
These influences and the big bands of Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, the solo work of Stan Getz, King Curtis and Tom Scott, as well as Groove's early exposure to the R&B sounds of WKYS in Washington, D.C., inform his music to this day, as he offers up a mix leaning strongly toward the pop and urban side of jazz.
After graduating from college, he stayed in Miami for a few years, gigging with an array of bands, including Expose, with whom he played on "Season's Change," a No. 1 Billboard AC hit. Moving to Los Angeles, he ended up co-writing a track for Richard Elliot of Tower of Power, eventually replacing him in that group's world-famous horn-section as Elliot launched his solo career. Groove toured with Tower of Power off and on for about four years, performing on Monster On A Leash, their first album with Epic.
During the last ten years he has toured, performed or recorded with a "Who's Who" in modern music, including Joe Cocker, Eurythmics, The Gap Band, Huey Lewis and the News, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Eros Ramazotti and Richard Marx, among many others. (Marx included Groove's sax savvy on a duet he recorded with Luther Vandross, "Keep Coming Back," which captured another No. 1 spot for Groove on Billboard's AC chart.)
Euge Groove's collection, which leans toward urban and R&B-tinged jazz instrumentals, as well as some transcendent smooth jazz, wouldn't be complete without the kind of Urban/AC vocal tracks that have brought him success in the past. He revisits familiar territory with "Tender Hearted Lover," written and featuring vocals by John Stoddard, plus "Give In To Me," accented by the beat-driven harmonies of N Sync's J.C. Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick and Justin Timberlake.
Groove's longtime friend Mike Egizi, co-producer and arranger on Euge Groove, brought the N'Sync song into the mix. Mike, the former musical director for the Mickey Mouse Club, had a song in the can from the early '90s featuring J.C and the N'Sync gang (when they were part of MMC). "We were looking for a vocal track and Mike played this for me," recalls Groove. "I said, 'This is great, let's do it!!!' I had no idea who was singing on it." After some back and forth, the song was a go, but Euge Groove was touring in Europe by that time and had to put his saxophone solo on long distance with an ISDN session. "I was in Frankfort [connected] to a studio in London that translated to a studio in North Hollywood. Paul [Brown] - what a great producer - had one tape machine burn up into smoke and had to throw everything over to the Pro Tools real quick, and he's not letting you know any of this. We're carving the whole way through this tune and the delay time is changing between 300 and 500 milliseconds because of the long distance phone connection and it's just incredible - the track came out great."
Paul Brown plays heavily in the whole Euge Groove picture. In '99, Groove had taken off time to record a solo album with Mike Egizi co-producing, writing/co-writing and contributing keys and programming. "I took off a year of touring to do this recording, you know, which was a long shot - my wife was just a little nervous about it. We had eight tracks. I knew Paul [Brown] was the guy to mix it. Every record that I hear that I love, I look and there's his name on it."
Because of Paul's dense schedule, Groove had to wait three months for two days of mixing. In the mean time, he threw the home mixes up on Mp3 and "It just went through the roof," exudes Groove. "I got it up July first and I started with 60 hits a day, then 120, then 400, 600, 1000, 2000 a day. I had six weeks of being No. 1 on their jazz site. I peaked at No. 6 for the whole sight - all genres."
When the songs were finally mixed by Brown, the stellar producer liked them and showed them to Matt Pierson (Executive Vice President/General Manager Warner Bros. Records Jazz) and some other friends. A bidding war ensued and Euge Groove was signed to Warner Bros. Records, who enlisted Brown to produce two additional tracks. In addition to the shared credits on "Give In To Me," Brown produced Stoddard's track and the Babyface/Daryl Simmons penned "Another Sad Love Song," which resonates with romance and features a king-size groove and melodic hook. Close listening is rewarded by Brown's brilliant placement of sound and sax on "Another Sad Love Song," and throughout Euge Groove.
Groove's playing displays a melodic sensitivity and emotionally captivating quality on the album's ten compositions that leans heavily on his innate pop/jazz sensibilities. The harmonic layering of alto, soprano and tenor sax creates a rich tapestry that presents new discovery with every play.
Particularly affecting are "Romeo And Juliet," written by Groove in the famous couples hometown of Verona, Italy, and "Truly Emotional" which, as the title suggests, spans a range of emotions (and tempos) with passionate playing all around, reflecting Groove's Tower of Power days.
The first single slated to ship to NAC, "Vinyl," has a retro feel. "I had this loop that had a scratch in it. I couldn't remove the scratch, so I thought, 'why don't I just put a record scratch underneath the whole thing,'" laughs Groove, "'and make it the basis for this tune.' So that's where the name 'Vinyl' comes from. It's reminiscent of old vinyl jazz records with this cheesy little organ sound in there."
"Summer Stroll" is infused with laid-back warmth and sensuality, while "Lay It Down" displays Groove's ever-present melodic strength, and the playful "Sneak A Peek" infuses some musical whimsy. Powerfully spiritual and spirited, "The Last Song," relays Euge Groove, "is like you're in church...like a requiem. It was also the last song on my demo."
In the wake of his debut release, Groove is currently on a worldwide tour with Tina Turner. He has already played at her 60th birthday party, filmed at the BBC in London, soloing in front of 40 members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and playing with a five-piece horn section and 18-piece gospel choir. (The concert aired in February on VH1.)
Since Ms. Turner tours three days on and four off, Euge Groove plans to fit in some tour support for his Warner Bros. debut Euge Groove along the way, as well as making the most of the time to write new material.
Reflecting on his year of unparalleled success and good fortune, Groove remarks, "It's been absolutely amazing. I mean truly, from the bottom of my heart. When I started out - I told my wife - the thing that I expected to happen was... 'I record this album on my own. I mix the record on my own. I sell it to an independent label. It does moderately okay on the radio. The independent label folds, but maybe somebody at Warner Bros.[Records] hears it and likes it. And a couple records down the road, I end up there.' The way it turned out is absolutely incredible."