Juz-Cuz came out of San Martin, California with a sound combining the soft-funk sheen of the Average White Band and Chicago with contemporary R&B and a few shots of jam band energy. The band started in 1997 when Sammy Donato and his brother Anthony Donato were still in high school. Though they went through several lineup shifts, Juz-Cuz did begin to build a following for its energetic mix of the old-school and the new. By the early 2000s things had solidified around vocalist/keyboardist Sammy and guitarist Anthony, with Mark Kraft (bass) and Kirk Berkland (drums) in the rhythm section and horns from saxophonist Armando Rodriguez and trumpeter Deepu Kochuparambil. Juz-Cuz signed with PPL Records USA in 2003, issuing the debut LP Return of the Players a year later.
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