Jerry Stucker was laying down the future of smooth jazz before they knew they were in trouble!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Roughly two years before the radio format formerly known as smooth jazz realized they were dying a pretentious death with a homogenized sound going nowhere, Jerry Stucker and Urbanzone Records were finding that musical happy place between smooth jazz and jazz fusion that only know artists are returning to in droves.
Stucker is a fine instrumentalist with clean almost methodical single note runs but with the deceptively subtle soulful bent of a Kenny Burrell. The tunes here are slightly eclectic and in the hands of a lesser artist could have proven to be incredibly lame covers that one might here at a friends wedding reception. Tunes like "Watermelon Man" and " I Love Her" are given a harmonic face lift with Stucker's unique spin that also explains his formidable skills as a producer.
Tony Adamo wrote and handles the vocal duties on "Hey Lou" and "Passport" with that re-fried funk style that fits hand in glove with a lineup including Ernie Watts on saxophone, Mike Clark on drums and Paul Jackson on bass.
Why review a five year old release? Simple...too many independent artists are not getting the fair shake they deserve from some of the mainstream publications. Put together a band this tight and a set list this inventive and the review literally writes itself. Stucker also plays with The Easybay Messengers along with Mike Clark and Paul Jackson but getting back to It's All A Groove, a one sentence review would have to be:
Tracks: 1 Watermelon Man 2 Winelight 3 Up in it 4 The World is A Ghetto 5 I Feel Like Makin Love 6 And I Love Her 7 Passport (feat. Tony Adamo vocals, Hipspoken word) 8 Berber Street 9 No Strings 10 Asibah 11 Hey Lou ( feat Tony Adamo vocals, Hipspoken word)
Personnel: Jerry Stucker-guitar, James Gadson-drums, Paul van Wageningen-drums, Mike Clark-drums, Kenneth Nash-percussion/vocals, Roberto Quintana-percussion, Freddie Washington-bass, Paul Jackson-bass, John Costalupes-bass, Gary Brown-bass, Neil Larsen-organ/piano, Shota Osabe-piano, Rodney Franklin-piano, Mark Kaye-clavinet, Eddie Henderson-trumpet, Mic Gillette-trumpet/trombone, Ernie Watts-sax, Skip Mesquite-sax, Doc Kupka-bari sax, Tony Adamo-vocals/Hipspoken word, Sandy Griffith-background vocals.