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Groove Ltd., the collaborative brainchild of renowned French c-jazz/funk guitarist U-Nam and the lovely up-and-coming saxtress Shannon Kennedy, has come up with some heavyweight grooves with its mighty debut release First Class. Packed with funk, lots of snap, and soulful rhythms, the album touches thatsmooooth nerve that resides in c-jazzers. Tracks like the infectious head-boppin and busy lead and title track, as well as the catchy up-tempo Uprising which features keyboardist Jonathan Fritzen show off U-Nam at his usual top-tier best and allows Kennedy to shine ever so brightly on sax. Speaking of Kennedy, her gritty tenor sax offering on Pheromones, truly one of my faves here, gets down into the very depths of one s soul and really moves things around in there. Not an easy track to blow by at all. With U-Nam s bluesy accompaniment, the tune sails on wings bound for the upper stratos. Along with Fritzen s contribution, the duo invites help from star songstress Maysa, percussionist Paulinho de Costa, steel drums master Andy Narell, and a host of others. If you like that slow, sultry groove led by a sexy sax, Lovedrive awaits your ears. Dripping with that midnight feel, it s a track definitely tailor-made for lovers. Maysa teams up with the duo on a funky mid-tempo goody that she also co-wrote with U-Nam called It s Alright Now. It s one of those unforgettable tracks designed to work you...and it does. It also features Narell and his trademark steel pan sound. Another steady mid-tempo funk-laden groove is Summer Nights (another one of my faves). Oh yeah, you will move to this one...guaranteed. The two definitely create a contagious jam session with this sizzler. In all, thirteen rock-solid gems are paraded here, and one would be terribly hard-pressed to deny that the power of the jazz/funk/soul vibe is not present in pleasant abundance on this project. First Class effort indeed. Ronald Jackson --Ronald Jackson - thesmoothjazzride.com
When two musical elemental forces come together, something extraordinary is created. Guitarist U-NAM is known by his solo projects The Past Builds The Future (2005), Back From the 80's (2007), Unanimity (2009), Weekend in L.A. (A Tribute To George Benson) (2012) and C'est Le Funk (2014). Saxophonist Shannon Kennedy received attention with Angel Eyes (2005) and in 2007 with Steppin Up and Never My Love. Now both reveal their collective debut under the group name Groove LTD. releasing the album First Class. The duo is joined by keyboardist Jonathan Fritzen, vocalist Maysa Leak, percussionist Paulinho DaCosta, drummer Michael White, bassist Dwayne Smitty Smith , Neo-Soul singer Myron Davis, steel drums master Andy Narell, as well as many more. Groove LTD. opens the album with First Class and covers its name with glory. The song shimmers in Benson like guitar style with Shannon's extra sax appeal fully equipped with a string orchestra. Uprising turns up the volume with a disco beat with Shannon completely unleashed and an exceptionally disposed Jonathan Fritzen on piano. It's Only Love was originally performed by Barry White on the album The Man (1978), later covered by Simply Red. The rendition of Groove LTD. shows Shannon in a double feature as splendid vocalist and saxophonist. It's the first single and music video of the album. Pheromones is the special smell spreading attractiveness. The couple delivers the musical equivalent on their instruments. On Coastline U-NAM and Shannon excel with an accessible ebb and flow that increase during the song. Lovedrive approach with a mellow and infectious melody line offering a consistent attitude of dramatic and empathic ardor. It's Alright Now is obviously inspired by Imagination's Just An Illusion. However soul queen Maysa finds with her very own scat singing and Andy Narell on steel drums the personal twist. Summer Nights has all ingredients for a successful smooth jazz breeze with the famous instinct for the perfect melody line. Music lovers will be fascinated by how casually Shannon weaves famous sequences in her presentation. U-NAM's Benson-like Ibanez riffs are salt and pepper to the groove. Teardrops from Womack & Womack's fourth studio album Conscience is experiencing a second youth. While Shannon stays truthfully to the melody, U-NAM takes the liberty for a solo excursion. You've Got It All featuring singer Myron Davis walks into the R&B realm with greetings to the 80's. The album is rounded up with radio edited versions of Uprising, First Class and It's Alright Now. Since April 22, 2012 U-NAM and Shannon Kennedy are married. First Class is their legitimate musical child full of vitality and delight in playing. It seems however, the album takes right after the father, he has written most of the songs and produced, recorded, mixed and arranged the album. --HBH - Smooth-Jazz.de
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