GRandJazzFest 2018 headliner Euge Groove – a pseudonym for saxophone journeyman Steve Grove – takes the GRandJazzFest stage Saturday night, Aug. 18, at 8 p.m. Grove began playing piano in the second grade and turned to the saxophone at the age of nine. His teacher gave him a classical education on the instrument, which he followed at the University of Miami’s School of Music where he became interested in jazz. After graduating, he initially remained in Miami doing sessions and playing in bands such as Expose, where he can be heard on the group’s 1987 No. 1 single “Seasons Change.” He then moved to Los Angeles and joined Tower of Power, remaining with the group about four years. Following this experience, he performed with such notable musicians and bands as Joe Cocker, the Eurythmics, the Gap Band, Huey Lewis and the News, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Eros Ramazotti and Richard Marx. Grove’s saxophone can be heard on Marx’s 1991 Top 20 pop and No. 1 adult contemporary hit “Keep Coming Back.” At the end of the ’90s, Grove developed the persona of Euge Groove and recorded a demo that attracted the attention of various labels. This demo soon landed him with Warner Bros. Records. Euge Groove, his debut album, was released in May 2000. At the time, the saxophonist toured in Tina Turner’s backup band. He followed up with 2002’s Play Date, featuring the singles “Slam Dunk” and “Rewind.” In 2004, Grove moved to Narada for the ’70s pop-soul-inflected Livin’ Large. Grove stuck with the ’70s vibe for 2005’s Just Feels Right and then incorporated a more gospel approach for 2007’s Born 2 Groove. He moved to Shanachie for 2009’s Sunday Morning. In 2011, Grove returned with his seventh studio effort, the fittingly titled Seven Large on Shanachie, with two more releases following for the label, 2012’s House of Groove and 2014’s Got 2 B Groovin.
Lin Rountree, a.k.a., “The Soul-Trumpeter,” also performs on the Rosa Parks stage at GrandJazzFest 2018. Rountree is an accomplished recording artist, producer and live performer. With six solo projects, 12 chart-topping Billboard singles and numerous collaborations with some of the industry’s top R&B/contemporary jazz artists to his credit, he’s poised to be one of the most renowned artists of his generation. After receiving his degree from Florida A&M University, he found his home in Detroit and has since performed extensively throughout the region. In 2012, Rountree appeared in the hit film Sparkle starring Whitney Houston, boosting his international profile.
Also performing on Saturday is keyboardist Oli Silk, called the UK’s “smooth jazz ambassador” who has built a large U.S. fan base. Silk began writing and recording music as part of jazz funk duo Sugar and Silk in the late 1990s. Silk now has five CDs to his name, all under the Trippin’N’Rhythm label. He remains one of the most dynamic and energetic keyboardists in the genre. His unique mix of jazzy instrumentals and funky vocals bring excitement to his live shows.
Tenth World is a group formed by Kevin Jones and pianist/composer, Kelvin Sholar through a partnership created back in 1999 in New York City. Together Jones and Sholar formed a collective of young talented master musicians on the cusp of realizing a new and creative sound that combined the harmonic sensibilities of Jazz and Soul with the rhythms of the African Diaspora. The nucleus of Tenth World formed around Kelvin Sholar’s group Esoterica which was a quartet. Other members were added; Saxophonist Brian Horton, Drummer Jaimeo Brown, Trumpeter Kevin Louis and both Bassists Damon Warmack out of Detroit and Joshua David Barrett out of New Jersey worked interchangeably.
Jones and Sholar’s first attempt at recording a project was a project called Land Of Eternal Tranquil Light which proved to be a bit too eclectic spanning to wide a variety of genres. Their next recording project was entitled “Tenth World” which was picked up by Motema Music (For more info: www.motema.com/artists/kevin-jones ) and produced by percussionist Babatunde Lea and Kelvin Sholar. This recording went on to be widely acclaimed and proved to be a seminal sound of the label and stands as a monument to the compositional and musicianship of the members. Included on that album were George Makinto; formerly Miriam Makeba’s musical director on flute, piano and percussion and acclaimed percussionist Luisito Quintero who both would join the band at different intervals during their tenure.
A second album was recorded called, “Tenth World Live” which drew even more acclaim for the group. During 2007 and 2008 many of the members left New York to pursue individual goals. Kelvin moved to Berlin, Germany where he now lives, Kevin Louis went back to his home town of New Orleans where he teaches, Brian Horton is now ready to receive his Doctorate in Music out of the University of North Texas and Jaimeo Brown has his own successful trio which is called “Transcendence”, Josh David Barrett has his own band called Judah Tribe and also plays with the Wailers.
More recently Kevin has relocated to Michigan and reformed this group with a variety of musicians both local and from afar. They have done a variety gigs from private functions to a few local specialty events such as The Loving Day Festival, The Lansing Jazz Festival, The Detroit Jazz Festival, Disability Advocates of Kent County Gala, GrandJazz Festival, Jazz In The Park and a host of clubs throughout the Midwest as well both East Coast and West Coast. The band is able to cross genres of music from traditional Jazz and R&B to Traditonal Latin, Rock and other forms of World Music.
The band is now set to record a forth album as the members have agreed to come together to break new ground. Some of the material for this album is already recorded they plan to finish this album in the coming months.
Other talented musicians that have played with Tenth World:
Babatunde Lea, Rudy Walker, Talib Kibwe, Vince Ector, Luisito Quintero, Anderson Quintero, Carlos “Nene” Quintero, Ozzie Simmonds, Chuck McPherson, Justin Robinson, Leo Blanco, Benito Gonzalez, Elio Villafranca, John Benitez, Patrick Rickman, Willie Martinez, Zen Zadravec,Teodross Avery, Marvin “Bugalu” Smith, Yayoi Ikawa, Rafael Alcala, Talib Kibwe, Alex Hernandez, Tony Cintron, James Zollar and Jerard Snell
Next on the performance lineup is saxophonist John Gist. Born and raised in Grand Rapids, this alto, tenor and soprano saxophonist has mastered a wide variety of musical styles that include jazz, funk, blues, R&B and gospel. Gist is known for his ability to play funky rhythms one minute and, in the blink of eye, make audiences melt with soft, sultry notes in the next.
In keeping with tradition, GRandJazzFest will open its eighth annual festival on Saturday, Aug. 17, with the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra featuring vocalist Edye Evans Hyde.
For over 40 years, The Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra has been one of Michigan’s premier jazz ensembles, featuring some of the finest musicians in the area playing swinging original compositions and arrangements as well as traditional favorites.
The musicians that create the live sounds are some of the area’s best soloists, sidemen, and educators available. Many have jazz projects of their own, yet dedicate time to fostering the performance of live big band jazz.
The band was founded in 1976 by the late Bruce Early, and has performed with many famous artists such as Clark Terry, Louis Bellson, Phil Woods, Pearl Bailey, Kenny Wheeler, Randy Brecker, Maria Schneider, Allen Vizutti, Phil Wilson, Bobby Shew, and has been enjoyed by thousands of people at concerts, dances, and festivals throughout the region.
Recognized as the 2011 West Michigan Jazz Society Musician of the Year, Edye Evans Hyde has been singing jazz, blues and pop music for more than 30 years in West Michigan, Los Angeles, Asia and Europe.
The GRJO performs for shows, concerts and private events and can be heard at Founder’s Brewery the 1st Sunday of every month.
Visit the website GRJO.com for more information on live streaming, performances, and CD’s.
Nelson Rangell and Steve Oliver round out the GRandJazzFest 2018 lineup with performances starting late Sunday afternoon at the festival. Jazziz magazine writes that Nelson Rangell is “an artist of depth, a master of song, and an improviser non pareil.” The Times of London notes “his extraordinary facility on a range of instruments and his undoubted virtuosity,” adding that Nelson is “one of fusion’s most accomplished exponents.” Such praise confirms what contemporary jazz fans have known since the Denver-based saxophonist emerged in the late ’80s: that Rangell is one of the most exciting and diverse performers in the genre, equally adept at soprano, alto and tenor saxophone, as well as being a genuine virtuoso on flute and piccolo. He’s released 14 CDs nationally and internationally. Joining him on stage is Steve Oliver, an American musician, guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and producer best known for contemporary jazz, although he performs in a wide variety of styles including pop, rock, Latin and electronic. He’s scored multiple hit singles on the Billboard contemporary jazz chart. The multitalented performer demonstrates his breadth with adult contemporary in Pictures and Frames, his first-ever all-vocal album. Oliver is renowned throughout the contemporary jazz world for his charismatic one-on-one relationship with the audience and a wild array of sonic delights that include soulful lead vocals, snappy guitar lines, wild vocal percussion excursion, playful “vocalese” and wonderworking with the synth guitar.
Next up on Sunday is saxophonist Marcus Anderson. With eight studio albums on his list of accomplishments, the fusion jazz artist brings together such genres as R&B, pop, rock, Latin and funk. Charting No. 1 on Billboard’s Smooth Jazz and Sirius XM’s Watercolors with his exceptional hit “A Cup Of Joe,” the South Carolina native delivers a major music sound. His work with the late Prince and the New Power Generation led him to join stages with the likes of CeeLo Green, where he has become a key contributor to Green’s touring band. He has also appeared with headliners on The Tonight Show, Arsenio Hall, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Jimmy Fallon.
The popular West Michigan band Grupo Ayé returns to GRandJazzFest 2018, having played at the festival in 2012 and 2014. Grupo Ayé specializes in Afro-Cuban music, which blends salsa, Latin jazz, bachata and merengue. The group’s experience spans performances with such noted artists as Pat Metheny, Tito Puente, Wynton Marsalis, Celia Cruz, Aretha Franklin, Harry Chapin Jr., Englebert Humperdink and Paquito Rivera.
On Sunday, Aug. 19, the GRandJazzFest performances start with student jazz band Lushh, an electronic hip-hop jazz ensemble comprised of students in Western Michigan University’s Jazz Studies Program. Lushh’s influences draw upon the likes of Kneebody, Thundercat, Hiatus Kaiyote, Snarky Puppy, Donny McCaslin, Flying Lotus and more. The band frequently performs in and around the greater Kalamazoo area and has begun to play in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. Lushh was named Blues/Pop/Rock Best Group in DownBeat magazine’s 2017 Student Music Awards.