Joe Augustine - License To Groove

Killer Joe - 4.27
Chill Out - 3.37
Cute Li'L Darlin' - 4.33
License To Groove - 3.17
Angel Eyes - 4.42
Hot Salsa - 4.23
The Dukester - 3.12
Love'S A Groove - 4.00
Smooch - 4.02
Doxy - 3.04
Dreamwave - 4.41
Another Rainy Day - 3.36

License to Groove marks Joe Augustine’s debut with 1201 Music. If you don’t know his work, you’re in for a treat. If you do, you’re still in for a treat, for Augustine is a pianist of rare sensitivity and imagination. As its name implies, License to Groove swings—nonstop, even at slow tempos—but its rhythms are sly, subtle, surprising and varied. Augustine and his colleagues are obviously enjoying themselves, and we get to share in the fun. The program is a mix of original material and old standards treated in new ways. (Listen, for example, to “Cute Li’l Darlin’,” Augustine’s nifty amalgam of the two classic Neil Hefti tunes.) It’s also an adventure in different rhythms—funk, bossa nova, straight-ahead four-four—many in combination with each other. The result is a succession of surprises, all of them pleasant. Says Augustine: “I wanted 12 totally different grooves, all treated with class and true workmanship.” Mission accomplished. But then, Augustine has the chops—and the credentials—to meet that kind of challenge. Based in Ohio, he has been performing for decades in every conceivable setting from solo gigs to concerts with symphony orchestras. His primary influences, he says, are the great composer/arrangers—Johnny Mandel, Bill Holman and Dave Grusin. (“They wrote wonderful things that I try to apply to my solo and small-group work.”) Since 1995, Augustine has been a designated Steinway artist—the ultimate accolade for a pianist—and, it should be noted, he has a wonderful inborn feel for the blues. He’s joined here by musicians with equally impressive resumes: bassist David Finck, guitarist Peter Calo, drummer Clint de Ganon and percussionist Steve Kroon. Their long, long lists of credits read like a Who’s Who of modern jazz and pop music: Dizzy Gillespie, Andre Previn, Clark Terry, Randy Brecker, Diana Krall, David Sanborn—and Roberta Flack, Carly Simon, Bette Midler and Blood, Sweat & Tears, among many others. The proceedings get underway with one of the great jazz anthems, “Killer Joe,” taken at an easy lope and distinguished by some wonderful bass work and Augustine’s seamless segues from piano to Hammond organ and back. “Angel Eyes,” that great saloon song, is given a sly, bluesy treatment that makes one think these particular angel eyes had a bit of devil in them. “Hot Salsa,” an Augustine original, pays affectionate homage to the Latin groove but never strays far from the blues. “The Dukester” is a 12-bar blues on a theme pecked out by Augustine’s playful cat. “Smooch,” also penned by the pianist, features a nifty combination of swing and hip-hop rhythms. “Dreamwave” is a lovely samba featuring lighter-than-air piano filligrees. Then there’s “Another Rainy Day,” a gentle, pensive melody over dense, gentle chords with plenty of space for beautifully lyrical solos. “It’s one of the most poignant ballads I’ve every written,” Augustine says. “It took me to a place of pure emotion, pure soul that I’ve never been before. Simple emotions give you strength, they make the song sing all by itself.” Well, yes. But it still takes a master singer to let it happen. And that, ultimately, is what distinguishes Joe Augustine at his best—a singer’s heart and lively musical intelligence. “I’ve always felt that music should be about surprise—with taste,” he says. Amen. Welcome aboard. Recorded at NOLA Recording Studios, NYC , September 2, 1999 ARTISTS: Joe Augustine (Steinway grand piano and Hammond B3), Peter Calo (acoustic and electric guitar), David Finck (acoustic & five-string electric bass), Clint de Ganon (drums), Steve Kroon (percussion) TRACKS: Killer Joe (4.27), Chill Out (3.37), Cute Li'l Darlin' (4.33), License To Groove (3.17), Angel Eyes(4.42), Hot Salsa(4.23), The Dukester (3.12), Love's A Groove (4.00), Smooch (4.02), Doxy (3.04), Dreamwave (4.41), Another Rainy Day (3.36) Visit Joe at http://www.joeaugustine.com

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