Groovopolis – Groovopolis

(Blue Bamboo Music – 2002)
by Ray Redmond

The Groovopleans have arrived to abduct you. The New-Orleans based jazz-groove group is comprised of Christopher Cortez (guitar), Dean Fransen (keyboards), Jay Webb (trumpet), Lenny DiMartino (bass), and Jeff Mills (drums). Their take on Stevie Wonder’s Go Home is part guitar groove and part big-band at times. Mr. Noom is one of eight tracks penned by guitarist Cortez, and it shows a lot of style in the songwriting and performance categories for Cortez. DiMartino holds a strong bottom through the whole CD, and Fransen manages to have huge overtones of Lorber in his style while still sounding fresh. Jammin With Jay starts off popping the bass line from the Kool and the Gang hit Ladies Night overlaid with some smooth keys. Then Cortez comes in on Guitar and changes it up, followed by Webb’s trumpet matching Cortez note for note, then going on his own spree.

Moon Walk, one of keyboardist Fransen’s two composiitonal contributions to this CD is slower and more straight-ahead than the Cortez stuff, vaguely reminiscent of some early Lorber or Chick Corea with a little Freddie Hubbard thrown in… very interesting. The group’s cover of the Marvin Gaye classic What’s Goin’ On is led very stylishly throughout by trumpeter Jay Webb. Say What and New Blood both feature some fancy duet-melody work between Cortez, Fransen and Webb that gives them a big sound. All of the tracks are well written and performed, staying safely within the ‘sound’ they are establishing for themselves. I’d describe that ‘sound’ as being straight-ahead jazz with a healthy infusion of groove. This is a very listenable release; I expect to hear more from this group in the future.