Volume 73, Number 33 | December 17 - 23, 2003


Groove Assault takes jazz-rock mixture on their own terms

By Ernest Barteldes

Quite a few bands have attempted to blend jazz and other elements of pop music together. Many have failed by doing everything except what they propose to do. Some of them are a bit too on the rock side, while others tend to concentrate on the elements of jazz - whatever that may be considering the fragmentations of what today people call jazz. And they end up leaving the pop side of their sound abandoned somewhere in the rehearsal studio.

This is not the case with Groove Assault, which will be performing on Friday, Dec. 19th at The Baggot Inn in what will be a regular appearance at the club, every other Friday.

From what I’ve heard from their recent release, “The Good, The Bad and The Filthy”, the band combines a lot of James Brown and George Clinton 70s funk sounds. It also adds guitar distortions that characterize heavy rock and the improvisational liberty of say, Miles Davis meeting Jorge Benjor (from Brazil) and Stanley Jordan on a moonlit summer sky.

Groove Assault is the brainchild of Bay Ridge-born Jimmy Prav, who describes the sound he makes as “Parliament and Black Sabbath meet at Miles Davis’ House”.

“I grew up listening to and playing metal and hard rock,” he told me in a recent telephone interview. “Later I began playing jazz and bepop, and after a period of doing both styles, I eventually formed the band.”

The band’s lineup has been a big “rotating door,” said Prev.

For instance, from the personnel included on their recent CD, only Prav and horn player Andrew Paulsen remain.

“I feel the band is evolving,” says Prev. “The CD, which we recorded in three and a half hours in what was mostly a live-in-the-studio format, came out very good, but you should hear how we sound live these days.”

Groove Assault’s current lineup includes Prav, Paulsen, Vinnie Sperrazza (“the best drummer you’ve ever heard in your life”, according to Prav), Arnold Gotlieb (bass), Ryan Weaver (keyboards) and Sean Mowel (tenor saxophone).

Although all the band’s songs are written by Prav himself, the band participates in what he calls a fifty-fifty format.

“I write the music, and they bring it to life,” he says. “I’m not like a dictator; I’ll write down the chords and I’ll tell, say, the bass player, ‘play something funky’ - in the end, they all bring something to the table.”


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