Jim Love &
the Blue Groove,
Gather 'Round
(Wyndfall, 2003)

This jazz band of four comes from Philadelphia and the players are Jim Love on drums, Ray Clemens on bass, Seth Meicht on horn and Andrew Hatch on guitar. I think these guys have put together a real gutsy project.

I don't think they've made too many wrong moves on this one, either. It is strong. It is good solid music and there is something special in the composition that steams their brand right on the music. This is their sound. They aren't afraid to push limits and yet they stay firmly inside their own set of musical boundaries.

My sense of Gather 'Round is that even while they are innovating they remain faithful and sensitive to the listener. The CD is not a selfish act of attempted brilliance. It is good music that turns corners but the players blend well and have remembered the big picture in their choice of tunes. And, for the most part, the sound is professional. The only problem was track 9. It became a question mark as it began to quiver around the middle of the track and then cut out. I waited ... but nothing. Since the title was "Johannesburg," I though maybe it's a tribute to the tragic story. But I had to switch to track 10, a vocal number with the title of the CD in the lyrics. Called "Sunday School," the song encourages us to "gather 'round." The female's voice is great -- deep and smooth.

"There's No Sound" is a piece that might be my first lesson in truly appreciating a horn. Each of the players take a turn doing something beautiful.

The bonus track might surprise you, might irritate you, but because these guys have proved themselves over and over by this point in the album, for me it was simply an interesting cut.

There's a lot of talent and hard work in this and a lot to appreciate. If you have jazz in your heart, I think this CD is a worthy companion.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 13 March 2004