It’s hard to define what groove is. It’s a combination of swing, rhythm, and use of space. Usually it arises from the right interaction of sounds from the rhythm section — drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards. You know when it’s there and you know when it’s not. Maceo Parker, a groove maven, usually starts his concerts with something like this:
We’d like to present 2% Jazz and 98% funky stuff. This is known as happy music. Happy music is when you hear it, you start moving and shaking something automatically!
I love groovy music. But I have especial preference for more raw grooves. By raw I mean the grooves that are powerful because they are imperfect, human, noisy and full of energy. Grooves are becoming too synthetic, metronomic, clean, and perfect nowadays. They often lose the point. So, here’s a quick list of some of the raw groovy tunes I love.
Sex Machine by James Brown. Yes, the classic one. It’s full of energy and has a tight groove. Great example of use space between bass, guitar, and drums.
Shake Everything You’ve Got by Maceo Parker. He is one of the most prominent disciples of the James Brown “university” — as he usually says. This song is all about enjoying the moment. My favourite version is in the album Life on Planet Groove.
Rocks by Brecker Brothers. They are a great jazz fusion duo — Michael on sax and Rangy on trumpet. I first heard Rocks in one of the 5 Brecker Brothers albums I bought last year. The groove arises from the alternation of bass and guitar lines on top of a powerful drum beat.
Cissy Strut by The Meters. This is a classic groove — for those into funky stuff. Cissy Strut is a slow-tempo funky song. Great use of space, packed with swing. The drum beat is simply awesome!
Serpentine Fire by Earth Wind & Fire. Ok, it’s quite hard to pick only one tune from those guys. They have a countless number of amazing groovy songs. Serpentine Fire has such a great vibe. Maurice White delivers a great singing performance, packed with energy.
As I said, this is just quick list. Groove is everywhere and, because it’s a subjective thing, people tend to have different favourite artists groove-wise. What are your favourite raw grooves?