Groove Troopers

Zoom Zoo

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Hailing from the Netherlands, Groove Troopers is a 14-piece jazz ensemble with a marked penchant for funk- and soul-inflected big band jazz and an already impressive repertoire of original tunes on its debut album. On Zoom Zoo, the band has only two real weaknesses: first, a tendency to get kind of longwinded on material that doesn't really deserve extended treatment -- like the otherwise enjoyable "Anitsja" (which would have made a fine four- or five-minute song, but really drags on at ten-and-a-half minutes) and "Absolution" (which starts out strong but wears out its welcome well before the end). The other is a production problem: it's too bad the horns weren't recorded more closely, because the part writing on tunes like "Nina's Dream" and "Bearing Bears and Boring Bores" is really impressive, and you shouldn't have to strain to hear the details. "Stampede" borrows a few tricks from Henry Mancini, and "Nuria" brings a firm but mellow tone to the proceedings. This is a promising debut, if not a perfect one.

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