Music News & Reviews

Groove tops the bill in name and spirit at this year’s Smooth Jazz Fest

Euge Groove headlines the Smooth Jazz Fest at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Euge Groove headlines the Smooth Jazz Fest at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Lexus Smooth Jazz Fest

Featuring Euge Groove and Avery Sunshine 7:30 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground, 4089 Iron Works Parkway. $31.80-$79.50. 859-255-2653.

For the 11th outing of the Lexus Smooth Jazz Fest, Lexington’s African-American Forum went with a name it knew the event could groove to. That meant a return booking of saxophonist Euge Groove.

One of the nation’s top-drawing artists in the instrumental pop and R&B genre known as smooth jazz, Groove — born Steven Eugene Grove — first played the Smooth Jazz Fest in 2009. Before he struck out on is own, Groove had a go-to career as a reed player for hire.

The list of high profile artists he played with included Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Paula Abdul, Heart and Tower of Power. Groove’s touring work also landed him a spot on a worldwide 2000 trek with Tina Turner that brought him to Lexington for a performance at Rupp Arena that October. Curiously, Turner shared that bill with the late rock and soul singer Joe Cocker, yet another artist who Groove clocked time with.

His 11th album under the Euge Groove moniker, “Groove On,” was released last November. The record sports seasonally sunny instrumentals that include “Free Time,” a vehicle for the artist’s crisply melodic runs on soprano saxophone; “Euge One-Oh-One,”a tune whose summery lyricism is colored by Tracy Carter’s runs on Fender Rhodes piano and the guitar support of longtime smooth jazz ally Peter White; and a reprise of the title tune emphasizing orchestration under an efficient tenor sax lead.

The Smooth Jazz Fest will also feature Grove’s label mate on Shanachie records, Avery Sunshine. The Pennsylvania-born, Atlanta -based singer burst onto Billboard’s Urban AC charts in 2014, where her single “Call My Name” remained at No. 1 for eight weeks. Sunshine’s newest album, “Twenty Sixty Four,” was released last year.

Catawampus Universe is (from left) Dave Farris, Tripp Bratton, Joel Crisp, Willie Eames, Steve Cherry, and Tim Welch. Rich Copley Lexington Herald-Leader

Catawampus Universe

8 p.m. Aug. 10, 11 at The Burl, 375 Thompson Rd. $15-$20. .

All aboard for another reunion ride through the groove cosmos known as Catawampus Universe. Throughout the 1990s, the Lexington band was a wildly popular club draw, dishing out progressive funk, soul and jazz related jams and making several high profile pals along the way — the most notable being the late Bernie Worrell, co-archiect of the famed Parliament-Funkadelic sound and co-pilot for Talking Heads in the early 1980s. The band dissolved in 2002 with frontman Joel Crisp largely disappearing from local view. Catawampus reunited in 2014 for shows at Cosmic Charlie’s. This weekend, Crisp, now based in San Diego, and the rest of the Catawampus company (drummers DaveFarris and Tim Welch, percussionist Tripp Bratton, guitarist Willie Eames, bassist Steve Cherry, guitarist Eric Belt and Mecca dancer Teresa Tomb) will take to The Burl for two nights.

David Byrne

Opening: Benjamin Clementine. 8 p.m Aug. 12 at PNC Pavilion, 6295 Kellogg Ave. in Cincinnati. $35-$175. 513-232-6220. .

Through the years, David Byrne has been nothing if not portable. In October 1983, when Talking Heads played the University of Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum as part of a tour chronicled in Jonathan Demme’s film “Stop Making Sense,” Byrne began the evening alone on a bare stage with musicians and platforms being added as the program progressed. Three decades later – July 2013, to be exact — Byrne played the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville as part a co-billed tour with St. Vincent. The drums and keyboards were anchored, but everyone else — including a massive horn section — remained inconstant motion. On Sunday, Byrne, now 66, will play the PNC Pavilion in Cincinnati in support his new“American Utopia” album. This time, the entire band — drummers, keyboardists, everyone — will be mobile. It’s a fascinating concept Byrne introduced when he performed “Everybody’s Coming to My House” last spring on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” The program itself? Expect loads of Talking Heads tunes, a more unexpected song sampler from Byrne’s solo albums and an opening set from British-born singer, songsmith and poet Benjamin Clementine.