Scripps Howard News Service
"PEOPLE PEOPLE MUSIC MUSIC," Groove Collective (Savoy Jazz World Wide)

May 22, 2006
by Chuck Campbell

Outside of the jazz inner circle, the J-word is anathema as a descriptor for anything beyond a pure jazz act to anyone other than a jazz lover. The rank and file may be more inclined to kick back with jazz than opera, but it's generally not something they seek out.

That's why the promo sticker on the cover of Groove Collective's new "People People Music Music" touts the band's "multi-hued funk" (with no mention of the J-word) and why a representative from the group's label _ the newly formed and aptly named Savoy Jazz World Wide _ is quoted as saying there is "no band better to launch a groove and electronica oriented label."

Too bad marketing hang-ups prevent "People People Music Music" from being tagged with the term "jazz fusion," because Groove Collective is particularly good at it. The tight sextet from New York City meshes together a sound with vivacious percussion, spiked brass and mellower keyboards. And while jazz figures heavily into the mix, Groove Collective taps other influences, including geared-down New Age on "Eat No Space," a spirited Cuban jam on "Tito" (a tribute to Tito Puente) and dance on the electric-massaged "Set Up."

Meanwhile, the instrumental focus keeps shifting on this free-flowing release, from trumpet to flute to Fender Rhodes.

Unfortunately, a few tracks on "People People Music Music" do illustrate the stereotypical downside of jazz, as when a renegade sax grates on "6 for Fred" and when "Centerfield" takes a while to get started and then just goes in circles. But the only mitigated catastrophe is the R&B-flavored buzzkill "DFU," featuring the kind of cheesy vocals that became passi in commercial jingles decades ago.

Otherwise, the Groove Collective does jazz fusion well, with nothing to hide.

Rating; 3-1/2