Evan Carydakis’ infectious, multi-faceted five track EP Groove House is more than his high impact debut in the funky and soulful realms of the smooth jazz genre. For the Melbourne, Australia born and raised, University of New England educated, Tasmania based saxophonist, it’s a full on celebration created to commemorate 25 years since he first performed on stage.
While listeners are certainly invited to enjoy the groove-intensive narrative as Carydakis weaves his punchy powerhouse horn magic from the bubbling old school cool and pocket funk title track through the bustling and bluesy romp “Grand Central,” those seeking a deeper experience will want to immerse a bit in the emotional and inspirational backstory of the project. At heart, it’s an homage to his family. Carydakis’ parents were first generation immigrants who, he says, “worked hard and selflessly gave everything for their four children, so I am very blessed to have this opportunity in my life.
The recording itself is a family affair, with Evan’s twin brother Stephan co-writing and producing and their lifelong friend, guitarist and co-producer Peter Kechavas helping develop the overall vibe and sonic details. Those add up to a fiery, funky, hard-edged yet ultra-melodic romp that draws from a great family upbringing where the kids all grew up listening to jazz, pop, rock and R&B. Aside from these influences and Carydakis’ intense playing style, perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the EP is the final track “Majorca,” whose balmy, exotic and laid back tropical nature makes it an outlier from the other four tracks that are urban jazz sax driven excursions.
Rather than showcase the sax, this song uniquely showcases the Carydakis’ brothers’ compositional and production skills as Australian based flamenco guitarist Thomas Lorenzo carries the stunning lead melody and Felix Meredith jazzes it up with adventurous trumpet solo. That kind of daring creative excursions are rare in smooth jazz, and make Carydakis an exciting artist to watch out for in the future!