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As a follow-up to the 2013 self-titled release, Sax O’Groove, Together cements itself in a dizzying array of contemporary jazz legends and artists for an action-packed, musical package that should not be missed. There are many well-known artists included on this mostly instrumental release, including Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson, Michael Lington, NILS, Darren Rahn, Shilts, Bill Steinway, AkusTICOS, and many others. All of the songs were mixed, produced, and recorded by Andreas Buechel, Nils Jiptner, Paul Weimar, Darren Rahn, and John Odio in Germany, Costa Rica, L.A., Chicago, and Playa Del Rey.  

“Love You More” features the work of Rick Braun, as the track opens with a lush and bright bass, guitar, percussion, and sax medley. The keyboards add some bright tones to the mix, as the rollicking tune ventures into upbeat territories. The array of horn sounds, atmospheric washes and embellishments, and steady percussion evokes a soothing and magical result that is rarely duplicated. The four-minute tune is one of the best jazz tracks on the album. 

“In The Shadows” opens with a funky, keyboard arrangement with full-on percussion and sporadic sax and gurgling bass sounds. There are neo-classical overtures, trippy electronic vibes, and a characteristic jazz beat. There are a lot of musical elements coming together here, which somehow works. There is a bit of jazz standard, cinematic leanings, neo-classical, funk, rock, and electronica stylings going around here. 

“Keep It Smooth” is an apt-title for a groovy, jazz-soaked tune with funky, bluesy, and lounge-laden musical elements from Darren Rahn. There are fluid sax tones, blurby electronica, keyboard embellishments, and swishy percussion throughout. The bubbling jazz grooves move to the forefront in musical harmony. Overall, it is a rather straightforward song with likable tones and instrumentation played in the right proportions. 

“Jungle Groove” features the instrumental work of Brian Culbertson amidst a jazzy percussive foundation with blurting horns, fluid guitars, heavy percussion, and keyboard ingenuity for a very engaging tune. The music is rather punchy and inventive, as the saxophones do not overtly monopolize the overall sound. The jungle connotation probably stems from the complex mix of sounds and tones that are slightly cacophonous, but in a good way. 

“Feeling Fine” is a composition featuring Bill Steinway amidst a mix of dance, jazz, and pop elements that are led by a disco-esque theme, swishy percussion, and keyboard accompaniment. There are sparkling electronic tones, Latin percussion, and various whistles and horns with piano accompaniment later on in the song. This adds a more cultured or diverse sound to the song, as well as the recording as a whole.

The host of accomplished musicians on Together makes it a recommended recording in its own right. Specifically, the diverse jazz styles revolve around the saxophone and a few other horns with upbeat percussion, keyboard adornments, and fluid grooves that add variety and classiness to the album. There are vocals on one track, but the rest of the tunes are completely instrumental. The instrumental structure of the album probably should not include vocals, but where they are present they seem to accentuate the musical elements of the track. Nevertheless, the music is better when it is completely instrumental on here, which otherwise interrupts the flow of the album. The music is primarily contemporary jazz, but there are some smoother elements. Whether the music is smooth jazz, acid jazz, nu-jazz, or any combination thereof, Together walks the line very comfortably between jazz and heavenly bliss. Sax connoisseurs should love this album. Importantly, none of the tracks needed any tweaking. Fans of the aforementioned jazz artists on this album, and jazz in general, will definitely find happiness on all of the tracks.

smoothjazz.com

With a stage name like “Sax O’Groove,” multiple horn master Andreas Büchel sets our expectations high, then transcends anything we could have imagined, infusing TOGETHER with his emotional and powerfully explosive, jazz and pop straight from his unpredictable musical heart and mind. He’s a true sax powerhouse, but he’s not making his magic alone! Aside from introducing us to his wild musical musings, Sax O’Groove vibes with some of our favorite artists, including Rick Braun on the soaring, retro soul-jazz tune “Love You More," Darren Rahn, with the sly and soulful “Keep It Smooth," Brian Culbertson blasting into the horn-drenched Jazz/Funk fusion of “Jungle Groove," along with Michael Lington, NILS, Shilts, Marqueal Jordan and others. Sax O’Groove has sax appeal!

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It should come as little surprise that a musical project named Sax O’Groove would produce an album that’s full of saxophone playing and groove.  Thanks to the amazing musicianship of the group leader, Andreas Buchel, and his fellow producers, Nils Jiptner, Darren Rahn, Paul Shilts Weimar and John Odio, their sophomore album, Together, is captivatingly entertaining and artistically brilliant.  The record bounces between smooth R&B textures, electrifying rock infused, jazz instrumentals, and some Latin tinged jazz.  As disparate as these genres may be, the musicianship links them together in such a way that the album as a whole becomes endlessly listenable.  

The title track that opens the record goes a long way towards showing the amount of musicianship Sax O’Groove packs into each song.  The keyboards that open the piece have a funky electric piano kind of sound to them, and they’re backed up by an equally slick rhythm section.  Once the horns kick in though, everything takes off to another level.  Buchel contributes the tenor and soprano sax parts with the alto being supplied by guest musician, Marqueal Jordan. The blending of all the horns is phenomenal and the melody is strengthened by the addition of a string arrangement.  Credit too needs to be given to Buchel for his handling of the brass section and supplying guitar for the track, while Weimar’s keyboard playing is a perfect foundation for all of this.

The song that directly follows, “Love You More,” brings us into the smooth realm of R&B.  The soft keyboards and percussion start to set the mood, but the heavy bass and sensuous saxophone nail it down.  The arrangement becomes richer the longer the song goes along, culminating in a trumpet solo from Rick Braun.  The textures are spectacularly smooth all around and even though it’s a much different feel than the song prior, the brass arrangements are so consistently stellar that it ties everything together.

When you hit a song like “In The Shadows” the funky guitar riff, sax soloing and drum fills come together to form a riveting funk/rock/jazz fusion that could best be compared to the sound of groups like Average White Band or Tower of Power.  You can hear that again on “Jungle Groove” where the heavy bass and guitar effects from Nils create an undeniably funky atmosphere.  Of course, the horn section is what really drives things forward.  Similar to how the trumpet appeared for a featured solo in “Love You More,” the trombone gets its own time in the sun courtesy of Brian Culbertsone.  For those who aren’t very familiar with brass instruments the tones and style between the solos are very much different, making it all the more accessible for music fans that aren’t necessarily enthusiasts of this genre.

Two of the pieces feature vocals; “Sea and Back” and the album closer, “Ave Maria.”  The latter of these is actually the only lackluster song here.  It relies heavily on strings and vocals with sax accompaniment and as one might expect, has a calming, serene sound.  It doesn’t fit very well with the other tracks on the album but it also isn’t nearly as engaging or interesting either.  “Sea and Back” on the other hand, takes that gentle sound, throws in a tremendous saxophone solo, male and female vocal parts, a good mix of soft guitars, and a small build to create a deeply relaxing yet captivating song.

Special mention should be given to “Feeling Fine” and “Tivies.” Both of them have an exotic feel to them thanks to the percussion and in the case of the latter, the Spanish guitar licks from Walter Chepe Blanco.  Naturally, the Sax O’Groove feel is still there but in a new setting that’s just as invigorating.  As if it couldn’t get any better though, this pair of songs is followed by, “Here I’m Back,” which is easily the album’s best cut.  It returns to the rock infused style that kicked the album off and does everything even better.  The piano, sax, electric guitar, and drumming are all electrifying to the point where a description doesn’t do it nearly as much justice as listening to it.

Sax O’Groove is full of so much talent that it’s almost baffling.  Buchel really shines as a leader but the fact that everyone on this album, from the regular contributors to the guests, is given so much room to work and strong material to play that it becomes more than the sum of its parts.  Jazz and funk fans are strongly encouraged to pick up this record as soon as possible but even casual music fans should be listening to this work.  The songs are all short and structured enough to where they don’t lose themselves in extended improvisation; they just do what they set out to do and bring you into the next work of art.  This is magnificent fun with tremendous talent; Together truly deserves your time and attention.

smooth-jazz.de

German publisher and saxophonist Andreas Buechel entered the musical stage 2013 with the album Sax O'Groove. Sax O'Groove was a cooperation of Andreas Buechel and John Odio. His sophomore project Together (2015) is beyond the scope of the first work and exceptionally well in the smooth jazz genre with a huge number of musicians involved.

All songs were recorded, mixed and produced by Andreas Büchel, Nils Jiptner, Paul Weimar, Darren Rahn and John Odio in studios in Arnsberg (Germany), Heredia (Costa Rica), Los Angeles, Chicago and Denver. Truly international, as it is only possible in the Internet age.

The album starts the journey with the uplifting Together, that knows to convince with a sophisticated horn arrangement decorated with professional saxophone interludes. The heartfelt ballade Love You More is crowned by a solo of famous trumpeter Rick Braun. Also remarkable the keyboard support of studio musician Hans Zermuehlen.

In The Shadows presents in a somewhat gloomy mood well-known English saxophonist Shilts, who also amazingly shines on the keyboards. In the same instrumental pairing Darren Rahn celebrates Keep It Smooth. In his skillful way he makes it light and easily digestible. Really big comes out Brian Culbertson with Jungle Groove. The extensive horn arrangement sounds like a big band.

The romantic song Sea And Back features vocal surprise Michael & Kelsey in a divine duet. Sax player Michael Lington provides the dreamy background. After the first few notes of Feeling Fine, I felt transported back in time to the 70s disco. Keyboardist Bill Steinway is featured artist on this blithely track. Tivives is a picturesque town in the Puntarenas region of Costa Rica with an awesome beach. The group AkusTICOS is advertising their homeland with this exotic tinged tune. 

Talented saxophonist Katja Riekermann gives a vivid hello with Here I‘m Back. Her own solo album Never Stand Still is just released in the States. The album is called Together, because for Andreas Büchel stands cooperation with the other musicians in the foreground. On the captivating track Missing You he shows his great talent on sax without giving advantage to other guest musicians. Nils aptly adds his chords on guitar to round up the song. Ricardo Ramirez is a virtuoso of violin from Costa Rica feeling at home in all genres of music. Ricardo and female vocalist Racquel bless us with a modern version of Ave Maria.

Sax O'Groove's album Together is a musical and a social project. Coming in contact with the best smooth jazz musicians and producers in the world, exchange experiences and thoughts, develop music and just have fun. We take part in an exciting development in the musical career of saxophonist Andreas Büchel. Together is compelling and worth listening to.