A shared love of the jazz funk music prevalent in the 1970s is the common thread bringing together the seven main members of the group Groove Legacy. Individually, the players are no slouches, having backed up the likes of Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Sara Bareilles and Carrie Underwood, but together they offer an exciting, tight sound of a band with several albums under their belt. The fact that this self-titled collection is their debut makes the offering all the more impressive and guest appearances from ace players such as Larry Carlton and Robben Ford don't hurt either.
The album opens with the appropriately titled "Sweetness (For Walter Payton)." The track mixes an irresistible groove with wah-drenched guitars and killer horns. The song recalls the heyday of bands such as The Average White Band and is an excellent way to begin the proceedings. "Odd Couple" offers more of the same, with guitarist Sam Meek adding a bluesy touch with his understated lead work. This music sounds at once both fresh and familiar and is impossible to sit still to.
Carlton guests on "Cornell," a track that opens with the distinctive sound of a Hammond B3 courtesy of Ricky Peterson. The song is a laid-back affair and Carlton's soloing fits the number perfectly. Along those lines is "The Know It All," featuring Robben Ford. Ford punishes his axe with some potent leads before giving way to Bill Steinway on Fender Rhodes. Throughout the record, these ace players know how to stay out of each other's way, allowing all of the soloists to shine, while playing perfectly off one another.
"My Someday Girl" offers a slinky groove with more tasteful playing from Steinway, while album closer "H-Town Hipster" ends the album on an up-tempo note. The rhythm section of Lemar Carter on drums and Travis Carlton on bass really shine on this one, pushing the other musicians in the process.
Groove Legacy offers an updated twist on an old sound played by crack musicians. The band is tight and the songs are strong, making for a killer debut album.