[17 March 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Two things stand out about saxophonist Ari Brown’s album Groove Awakening. First, its urban persuasions are very windy indeed. It’s released on Delmark and includes songs written by Chicago musicians in dedication of Chicago musicians (Ari wrote “One for Ken” for the late Ken Chaney and his brother pianist Kirk Brown penned “3bop 4 Mal” for AACM heavyweight Malachi Thompson).
Secondly, it’s noticeable just how boppy the album isn’t. Groove Awakening really is all about the grooves. If the term “smooth jazz” wasn’t already highjacked by those who program playlists for dentist offices, this would be a welcome antidote. It’s almost comforting just how breezy the title track is. You might not even mind that it fades out. Ari Brown takes over the piano for “Give Thanks (Song for Gerri)”, a number dedicated to his mother-in-law. Ysef Ben Israel, Avreeayl Ra and Dr. Cuz are the rhythm section.