Steven Eugene Grove, aka Euge Groove, made quite a splash with his self-titled debut album in 2000, attracting enough attention to allow him to quit his day job as a saxophonist for hire for people like Tina Turner. His second smooth jazz release, Play Date, is more of the same and will please the same constituency of casual jazz fans and light FM stations. Again working closely with producer Paul Brown yet producing many of the tracks themselves this time, Grove and his writing partner, Michael Egizi, come up with percolating synthesized and programmed rhythm tracks over which Grove solos melodically. Nothing to write home about in that, of course, except that they vary the formula just a little on just about every track. On "From the Top," Chester Thompson contributes some tasty Hammond B-3 playing; the slow-tempo "Gonna B Alright" gives way to a cover of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" that employs enough familiar elements from the original arrangement to recall it without replicating it; "Love Me," the obligatory vocal number, has a sexy chorus sung by Stacy Campbell; "Belle Maria" features Peter White, who adds Spanish guitar, creating a different feel; Grove switches from tenor to soprano on the title tune; and "With You I'd Believe," featuring some delicate acoustic and electric guitar work from Dean Parks, and on which Grove plays alto, has an attractive melody that is crying out for a lyric to turn it into an adult contemporary hit. The varying tones of the disc make for an enjoyable listening experience whether one is paying close attention or not, which is a key to successful smooth jazz.
Play Date Review
by William Ruhlmann