JazzChronic, a quintet from Athens, Georgia, utilizes keyboards, guitar, and saxophone to make a sonically appealing mix of tracks. Their first album "Share the Wealth" was my introduction to the band, and it offered an energetic array of tracks to please the uninitiated. Tracks like "Drop Tha Funk" and "Spank Your Mom" made me crack a smile, and the album nestled itself into high rotation on the strength of those tracks and others. After placing "Share the Wealth" as my Homegrown Music Network "Staff Pick" for January 2011, I was pleased to hear that "Groovathon" would be soon in release. JazzChronic features the talents of Howard Stroud on keys, Leon Campbell on drums, Bill Baker on bass, Justin Willis on guitar, and Gnarly G on saxophones. A bevy of guest musicians appear on "Groovathon," adding layers of trumpet, tuba, synthesizers and slide guitar. The resulting recipes are challenging, well composed, and epic in scope. The 12 tracks of "Groovathon" run nearly 80 minutes in duration, and present lots of twists and turns to chew on.
"Groovathon" begins with the enthusiastic "Future Classic," driven by tight horns, skittering guitar, and mellifluous keys. Horns swell, alternate with guitar, and establish a nice jumping off point for the album. The title track is a lengthy, extended opus that utilizes horns, guitars, and keys in trademark fashion. "Peace of Me" displays yearning saxophone, while "Dirty Pockets" moves forward methodically and energetically, demonstrating Howard Stroud's lightning quick fingers on the keys. "Grun Tu Molani" features Gnarly G's saxophone and flute, and results in a pleasing, atmospheric jam. "Groove Pimps" is light-hearted and energetic, and utilizes excellent guitar as it races to its conclusion. Swanky saxophone adds embellishing flourishes to the mix.
"4 Lefts Don't Make a Right" rises from the ashes of "Groove Pimps" and features syncopated horns and a nice groove. "Gimme Some Green" is a fun, light-hearted number featuring excellent saxophone from Gnarly G and Stroud's trademark work on the keys. Justin Willis offers spirited runs on guitar, adding another layer of density to the jam. "HNL" offers another dose of expressive saxophone, guitar, and keys, while "On the Grind" is more contemplative, and thoughtful. It settles into a nice jam and sets the stage for "Rollin Thick." The album closes nicely with "Takinemout."
In reviewing the newest release from JazzChronic, I am most impressed with the band's compositions. This album is epic in scope, with pleasing twists and turns, while excellent horns, keys, and guitar add excellent body to these jams. The tracks present an intriguing mix of funk sensibilities and jazz fusion jams, and illustrate pleasing new directions for the band.
- J Evan Wade