SINGLE REVIEW: TC & the Groove Family – ‘Let’s Start’

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The one time I’ve seen TC & the Groove Family play – and I sincerely hope it’s not the last – it was jaw-droppingly exciting. Truly one of the best gigs I’ve been to. The almost casual way they weave jazz, soul, afro-beat, hip-hop, and countless other things into something mesmerising, compelling, insistent and impressive was incredible. And that mix and rhythm just insists and compels you to move. It’s truly beautiful.

‘Let’s Start’ takes you on a journey, it twists and turns, surprising you from moment to moment. It changes tempo, mood, style seamlessly. One moment it’s mainly jazz, then it goes all afro-beat, then moody jazz building to something frantic, then all jazz-psychedelia. It is a trip.

But it’s coherent, the journey makes sense. At each change there is another player highlighted – a horn player, the most amazing guitar, the creamiest organ. And behind this the beat goes on – drums shifting and changing. And although an instrumental it tells a story, the piece has a meaning. The band say ‘Let’s Start’ is about moving forward as a stronger, unified society for all those who seek justice and peace, standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement’, and you can feel that in the way the horns provide the backbone to the piece. There is joy in the guitar section that comes out the jazzy psychedelic section that seems to signify confusion, muddied waters.

I may, and it’s entirely possible, be reading too much into the piece. But the thing with an instrumental piece is that you build your own story to the feel, the sounds and the mood. It opens up your imagination.

Alternatively you could just let yourself go and dance like there’s no tomorrow. For this is something that fills you with the joy of music, the joy of rhythm. A joy that insists you get up and get down. It says ‘come together and dance’ out loud.

And I’ve forgotten something, and that is to say that musically this is brilliant. The playing is outstanding, as you’d expect from something of a Leeds supergroup. You can focus in on a particular instrument and be amazed, hear the contribution it makes to the sound as a whole. But it’s the whole that has an impact way beyond the sum of the incredibly talented parts.

This, people, is cool. It’s cool sonically encapsulated.

The info

Inspired by the music of Fela Kuti, the band say their original composition “is about moving forward as a stronger, unified society for all those who seek justice and peace, standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement”.

TC & the Groove Family are a young 10 piece afro-funk/fusion ensemble led by drummer Tim Cook (TC) featuring musicians from some of the best bands in the city’s underground music scene (Necktr, Project Hilts, Mamilah, Long Legged Creatures). They make a powerful, joy-filled sound that takes in music from across the globe and unites it into one glorious dancefloor fusion; a tasty stew of Ghanian highlife, Nigerian afrobeat, Brazilian samba, Caribbean soul and Afro-Cuban rhythms fused together with fierce breakbeats and explosive basslines.

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