Grupo X are one of Europe’s leading latin jazz groups. Led by trombonist Jonny Enright and based in London, they initially evolved as an offshoot of the UK’s premier salsa band of the 90s, Orquesta La Clave.
The band soon acquired a style of its own. A blend of classic Nuyorican salsa and latin jazz of the 70s mixed with bugalu and soul. Add a touch of English vocals and a love for the classic dancefloor jazz sounds of London in the 80s and the fusion was complete. Latin jazz/funk DJ and percussionist Snowboy is the band’s biggest fan. Their track “Brand New Love” featured on his Snowboy Presents the Hi-Hat compilation on Ocho records in 2000.
Live, the band have a reputation for “kickin’ ass”! They are house latin band at London’s Jazz Cafe, especially at the “Messin’ Around” and “The Hi-Hat” club nights. They’ve backed U.S. percussion stars Johnny Blas and Bobby Matos, legendary vibes man Dave Pike, Cuban master pianist Alfredo Rodriquez, and number one Nuyorican trombonist Jimmy Bosch. That’s one hell of a list!
What about the music? Firstly, all compositions are original material! That on its own is a great achievement. But the fact that they are great tunes too, and swing like crazy, must also be applauded. Main composer is Jonny Enright, himself, with major input from fellow band members Jimmy Le Messurier, Carlos Peña, Pete Eckford, and sometime X-man Dave Pattman.
The playing on the album is top-notch and every facet of latin jazz is covered. Opener “Brand New Love” is a UK jazz dance classic in the Dingwalls / Hi-Hat tradition, featuring soul-diva Lisa Millett on vocals. “X-Posure” is a funky Mozambique. Vocal tune “Jonny’s Bugalu” is a party number - handclapping, footstomping latin soul. “Guaguanco en Chicago Chico” is pure rumba jazz. “Mi Tumbao”, a son montuno with more Spanish vocals. “Why?” is smooth latin jazz. “Eye2Eye” is a soulful latin tune, heavy on the groove and drenched with the blues! A dancefloor hit for sure, with a passing nod to Herbie Mann and War! “The X-Factor” features guest vibes-man Roger Beaujolais in full Bobby Hutcherson mode - a nice touch to end a great and varied album.
Grupo X have made their reputation in UK with some heavy hitting live gigs. People are talking. When latin legends like Bobby Matos and Jimmy Bosch sing your praises, you know you must be doing something right! Now its time for the rest of the world to hear their message and see what all the fuss is about. Enjoy this unique brand of London latin soul jazz, and be sure to watch out for future releases - Grupo X are here to stay.
Lubi Jovanovic (Casa Latina/Straight No Chaser)
released February 12, 2001
Bongos, Congas, Tambourine – Pete Eckford
Electric Piano [Rhodes] – John Crawford
Flute, Alto Saxophone – Finn Peters
Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Maracas, Guiro – Carlos A. Peña
Timbales, Cowbell, Cajón, Backing Vocals – Jimmy Le Messurier
Trombone, Backing Vocals – Jonny Enright
Vocals – Lisa Millett (Track 1)
Trumpet, Flugel – Sean Corby (Tracks 3,6 & 8)
Vibraphone – Roger Beaujolais (Tracks 6 & 8)
Tracks 3,6 & 8 recorded at Pathway Studio and Down Home Studio, London, February 1999
Engineered by Justin Underhill and Roger Beaujolais
Mixed by Simon Edwards
Tracks 1,2,4,5 & 7 recorded at Pathway Studio and The Control Room, London, January / February, 2000
Mixed by Ritchie Thorpe
Produced by Jonny Enright and Jimmy Le Messurier
Mastered at 10th Planet
Pioneering 10-piece Latin ensemble, Grupo X, started out in
London in 1997, formed by trombonist Jonny Enright. Inspired by the sounds of ‘60s and ‘70s Latin New York, Grupo X’s regular appearances at London’s Jazz Cafe earned them a reputation for hard-hitting, crowd-pleasing, original Latin grooves....more