Reviews of our Music & Shows:

fo/mo/deep — Syzygy 
Sept. 13, 2019 

I have been following this eclectic groove machine known as fo/mo/deep since 2010, and I have to say that, with each of its colorful releases (including the current Syzygy — interesting title), the band has given me plenty of reason to continue following it. 

Operating as a trio these days (Ron “FatKat” Holmes on all basses, Andre Scott on drums and percussion, and Robert Mason on piano/keys) and continuing in the vein of eclecticism (as one of its albums is titled, by the way), the group gives nods to the funk/soul groove while still holding up high the contributions of the masters of the traditional jazz persuasion. 

The sound and feel here is rich, full, and speaks clearly of quality musicianship and music that was well-produced, well-selected (in the case of covers), and well-thought-out (in the case of originals). 

Tracks of particular note to me are an impressive cover of the late great Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up,” a snappy, keys-tight “Bourbon Neat,” a funky piano-chatty cover of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles,” a lazy-smooth and soulful little number called simply “Paradise” that (guess what?) displays more top-tier piano work — in fact, all of these goodies highlight Mason’s marvelous piano/keys work (a huge nod to the unselfishness of bandleader Holmes who clearly knows what he has in Mason — certainly not to take a single thing from the bassist himself or his in-the-pocket drummer). 

There are also superb covers of a couple of Coltrane gems “Giant Steps” and “Naima”) , as well as a very interesting take on the Rod Temperton-penned “The Lady In My Life” (recorded by Michael Jackson and, later, by Lou Rawls) and a brilliant version of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Much more here to enjoy as well. 

Eclecticism personified, this highly perceptive trio of quality musicians deserves a serious listen. Two thumbs up– Ronald Jackson of  The Smooth Jazz Ride -

The Groovy Goodness: by Chris Mann, Smooth Jazz Daily….  I reviewed fo/mo/deep's previous record "A Beautiful Bang" and I'm glad to have been able to keep up with the band between the release of that record and 2014’s deliciously titled "The Groovy Goodness".   As I type this, summer seems like it's upon us and the burst of energy that is '1974' just makes it feel all the more real. The passionate sax and electric piano solos reinforce what the rhythm section has told you from minute one - it's on! I just went back and listened to this song after drafting this first paragraph - because I can't get that sax hook out of my head, in fact this whole song has grabbed me and won't let go. Funk lovers are in more familiar territory with 'Block Party', which is a sax-led head-nodding number. There is a lot of air in Ron Holmes' fretless bass line and André Scott's snare drum pattern - which I always love - this must be a great jam live.   Is it a Motown track, or a big band number creepin' up on you? Neither - it's 'Groidology'. It has a real swagger, helped by the loping upright bass line. I loved this song the first time I heard it and it gets better all the time. The rhythmic figure on piano and *that* trombone solo bring it on home. Mighty, mighty. Blues? Is John Lee Hooker in the house? 'Peach Cobbler' has an old Crusaders sound - and I mean that this sounds like Wilton Felder and Joe Sample circa 1972. The break midway through has an almost carnival vibe - it sounds like someone is having a ball in the studio!    'If We, Can Be..' is a short but grand solo piano intro to the ballad 'As She Walked Away', which is a lovely segue, let me say. Joshua Boyd gets a sense of drama reminiscent of the Isley Brothers' 'Highways of my Life'. The ballad itself is very radio friendly, and I mean that in the most positive way. Smooth jazz and NAC stations should be giving this heavy airplay. Tenor sax takes the melody but it's the piano that really sets the tone. The swell of the fretless bass and that skipping snare are more hypnotic than you realize.   There's a lovely retro feel to the chunky 'That Song (This Love)'. Keith Newton's tenor sax leads off and states the melody clearly before the groove lays back and the sax takes a lyrical solo. The electric piano interjects but the pleading sax takes it home. That same sax burns on the short and very sweet solo piece 'You Can Love me Twice the Next Time'. Hear this on headphones and feel chills.  'The Price of Suga'' is a frenzied piece written in 6/4. The fretless bass almost sounds like a voice, and the electric piano and soprano sax whirl around as if to drive the bass crazy. Then the bass goes crazy - the tension was building to the point where it had to cut loose. Peace of mind by the end? You decide. Certainly in the closer 'Chamsa (A Tribute to Shimrit Shoshan)' the solo piano makes you close your eyes in contemplation.  My review of the previous CD I talked about the honest nature of this band's music. They have a tightness and togetherness that must come from the many gigs I see publicized on social media, and it's delivered to music buyers intact thanks to uncluttered and elegant production which, to my ears, is rare in these times. The more I listen, the more I'm drawn in to the fo/mo/deep sound - and I like that.   And here's a shout out to Ron and Sandra Holmes for one of the most funky, engaging and joyful pieces of cover design I've seen in years. It's often used as my computer wallpaper, both at home and at work. Drawn in… -  Chris Mann, Smooth Jazz Daily
Fo/Mo/Deep: The Groovy Goodness (2014) By EVERETT R. DAVIS,  Bassist Ron "FatKat" Holmes and the members of fo/mo/deep are back in a big way with the highly anticipated release of The Groovy Goodness. The The Groovy Goodness contains nine pleasantly delightful, cool funk jazz tracks that take you on a winding journey reminiscent of the 70's, and 80's smooth jazz that moved, grooved, and soothed the soul. The jam session opens with "1974" (T. MӓKynen) which is loaded with catchy in-and-out piano and saxophone melodies that stimulate your mind body and soul. Known for holding nothing back, the group glides into the funky and upbeat "Block Party" (K. Newton) which sets up the groove for the hardest hitting and most soulful track of the release, "Groidology" (P. Everett). This edgy fusion laced track spotlights the rhythmic tenor sax, trombone, and piano solos of Dr. Keith Newton, N. Michael Goecke, and Josh Boyd respectfully. It's loaded with a hard hitting musical euphoria that will surely get you in the groove whether you are on your morning commute or just kicking back and relaxing.  Slowing down the pace a bit, "Peach Cobbler" (R. Holmes) is a smorgasbord of cool vocal taunts, superb saxmanship, and a smooth bass track sprinkled with a generous dose of organ. "As She Walked Away" (R. Holmes) is a relaxing and imaginative track that easily draws you in while relaxing piano melodies and sultry sax grooves invoke tranquil thoughts and images that are sometimes best left to the imagination. The set closes out with "Chamsa" which features a masterful piano solo by Joshua Boyd and is a tribute to jazz pianist Shimrit Shoshan who passed in 2012 at age of 29.  Composer and bassist, Ron "Fatkat" Holmes and fo/mo/deep do not disappoint with The Groovy Goodness. This is a delightful and stimulating return to the days when cool jazz reigned supreme. -  EVERETT R. DAVIS, All About Jazz
................"Big thank you once again for coming out and playing at our little series. You guys sounded really tight, funky and just groovin, really great stuff. It's been a while since I saw you last and you guys just keep getting tighter. We had some really positive comments from people who probably haven't seen you before. Keep up the great work!"......- Mark Subel, Harrison West Jazz Stage
fo/mo/deep – The Groovy Goodness (2014) Fresh from the fusion triumph of A Beautiful Bang, Columbus, Ohio’s fo/mo/deep is poised to take listeners on another funky ride through the fun side of jazz. The Groovy Goodness — on sale June 3, 2014 — does a good job maintaining that good vibe fostered on the prior release without going out and mailing it in with a  A Beautiful Bang, Vol. 2The Groovy Goodness is its own entity, marked particularly by a feel that a bit more organic and although the band’s handmade music was already too rugged to be considered your run-of-the-mill smooth jazz, Groovy is maybe a tad angular still. Led by its bassist Ron ‘FatKat’ Holmes, fo/mo/deep is completed by Dr. Keith Newton (saxophones), Andre’ Scott (drums) and Joshua Boyd (keyboards).  Funk remains the name of the game, and you’ll find sinewy grooves in “Block Party” and “Peach Cobbler” and “That Song (This Love),” where Holmes can be counted on to anchor them down with chunky, imposing bass lines while Newton’s big, impassioned tone carries the bulk of the melody with Boyd rounding it out.  “Groidology” is contemporary but connects directly to the acoustic soul-bop of the 60s, especially with the guest appearance of N.M. Goecke on trombone. “The Price of Suga’” suggests the underrated funky but lissome harmonic progression of Spyro Gyra.  A Beautiful Bang had four covers, The Groovy Goodness has just two, and these are much more obscure. “1974″ is from Finnish flugelhorn specialist Jukka Eskola’s 2005 self-titled album and composed by his drummer Teppo Mäkynen. Its breezy, Brazilian vibe and the fetching melody captured on electric piano are faithfully captured by fo/mo/deep, but Newton along with former band keyboardist Kevin Jones share the lead voice. “Chasma” is a sober but pretty melody that was composed by the promising Israeli pianist Shimrit Shoshan, who died suddenly a couple of years ago at the age of 29. Boyd alone gives a tender reading of this song on acoustic piano. A regional act with nationwide chops, poise and appeal, fo/mo/deep keeps a good thing going with The Groovy Goodness. - S. Victor Aaron, Something Else Reviews
Fo/Mo/Deep: The Groovy Goodness: Very nice work, and another reason to reconsider jazz as a member of the Urban format. Very contemporary, funky, and of course, jazzy. The Groovy Goodness covers a lot of ground, and it is an energy charged, engaging listen right from the start. -
Brent Black, @ CriticalJazz ….”A release as deep and rich as the cover art, I’m hooked…The development of a major label artist or act is rare. Sign the deal and your job is to now write for radio and play what sells. With all the baggage that comes with an independent artist that one shiny star is artistic integrity. Fo/Mo/Deep is back with an eclectic groove that pulls from a myriad of influences yet with the skills necessary to keep it tight and moving. Diversity is indeed a righteous groove. I don’t venture into the contemporary jazz waters often but in keeping with my commitment to the independent artist, Fo/Mo/Deep makes it a pleasure and they make it easy. ………”
Fo/Mo/Deep – A Beautiful Bang....You can find out about this 5-piece, Ohio-based ‘funky jazz collective’ on their website. I can tell you that ‘A Beautiful Bang’ is fo/mo/deep’s second album (after ‘Eclecticism’) and, well, let’s get right into it… I’m a fan of funky jazz collectives, such as Incognito and Down to the Bone and I’m already placing FMD squarely in that bracket when I hear the bass-driven groove of the opener ‘Jawjacka’ (love that title). This instrumental focuses on the funk and has some nice key changes. Keith Newton’s tenor sax is well up in the mix and sounds really strong. The whole song reminds me of Paz at their best. That same sax tone pervades on the sexy ‘Martini Blues’, which slows the pace right down and allows you to enjoy the flavour of Kevin Jones’ old-school electric piano. I’m drawn in already.  FMD’s take on Bobby Hutcherson’s ‘Montara’ has that deeply urban jazzy vibe that I’ve loved for so long in Incognito’s music. From the first few bars, I know I’ll be playing this for years. Ron Holmes’ sinewy bassline teams perfectly with André Scott’s crisp snare and underpins this gorgeous mid-tempo instrumental all the way. Over headphones especially, Kevin Pouncey’s percussion really adds a layer of style to this song. Fatkat’s fretless bass solo sure does it for me! On ‘Mama Said, Mama Said’ the only word you need to remember is funk. Some nice rhythm guitar gets poured over the already tight rhythm section. The organ solo on here is straight out of the 1970’s – where I live that’s a great thing!  The 6 String Electric Upright bass solo that starts ‘Da Ba Di Do (Sonrisa de Zoe)’ took me by surprise but I was pleased to hear it build into a nicely offbeat, almost Latin instrumental with some nicely zany background vocals and percussion. Makes me smile each time I play it.  The title track has,” A Beautiful Bang” in contrast, almost an African feel to it, with some great backbeats and lively percussion touches. The horn arrangement is particularly worth mention, as is the funky breakdown which must work great live!  Let your hips move to the slinky reggae wiggle that is ‘Red Clay’. It’s a Freddie Hubbard composition and I’ve never heard the original – I don’t care because this has flavour, then more flavour, and then just a little more… Where is the album’s big ballad? It’s right here in ‘The Wanting’, which brings a complete change of tempo from all that’s gone before and allows soprano sax acoustic piano to weave a melody together that will really stick in your head. This is modern instrumental soul on a par with Brian Culbertson, Marcus Johnson or Marion Meadows. Fabulous!  Keith Newton’s hits – and holds – an impossibly high note on soprano sax to kick off a slippery version of Fela Kuti’s ‘Gentleman’. It it weren’t for the cleanliness of the production, you’d swear this had been recorded back in the day. The groove is repetitive and hypnotic and really gets under your skin. As you’d expect from Fela Kuti, the song has a message – and it comes across loud and clear! Holmes goes nice and low – ah yes, a 6-string bass gives away the fact that this funk is now!!  This band can write – and play – the blues and they let you hear it to great effect on the sax-led ‘My Baby Gots’ the Blues, Blues’. It’s a classic – well, it’s going to be.  Talking of classics, John Coltrane’s lovely ‘Naima’ has been interpreted by many artists and this grand treatment is my favorite from the versions I’ve heard – and they include those by Gene Harris and Tom Browne. Its beauty lies in its simplicity: we have piano and tenor sax and that’s all we need for a gorgeous piece of real jazz. This isn’t a cover version – it’s a homage. When you read a title like ‘A Plethora of Pleasant Thoughts’ you expect the musical equivalent of your favorite comfort food – well I do. And here it is, with its Latin sway and soothing percussion. Fans of Mongo Santamaria and Dave Valentin, you won’t be disappointed with this one. ¡Sabroso! The sombre closer ‘The Road’ has a lovely ‘live’ feel, coming mostly from the way the drum track is recorded. The sax, piano and background vocals all share a 70’s, almost Blue Note-style, soulfulness. Hard to describe that I mean by that – you really need to hear this record anyway.  In the years that I’ve been writing about music, it’s always been a pleasure to hear the latest release from my favorite artists. It’s a real joy though to hear music this good from a band I just discovered. The writing, performing and producing talent on display here is really dazzling, but what I like most is the honest, funky nature of a band that knows where its roots lay, what it does well and what its audiences are going to love. - Chris Mann, Smooth Jazz Daily 
Fo/Mo/Deep  -   The Groovy Goodness    4/3: O's Notes: The Groovy Goodness is the perfect title for this collection of ten funky R&B jams produced by bassist Ron "FatKat" Holmes. fo/mo/deep is Dr. Keith Newton (sax), André Scott (d), Joshua Boyd (keyboards) and Holmes. The groove is powerful and contagious starting with Newton's "Block Party" and continuing with "Peach Cobbler" and "That Song". This is old school jazz, funk and soul reconstituted for 2014! - D. Oscar  Groomes , O's Place Jazz Magazine 
fo/mo/deep — Eclecticism, Oct. 15, 2010:   With a very alluring, ear-friendly blend of jazz, world, and soul influences, fo/mo/deep, this talented group of musicians which reminds one of the iconic group War in some ways, teases and pleases with touches and tastes of piano, sax, trumpet, and percussion in all the right places on this aptly-titled debut release, Eclecticism, with plenty of rhythm and exoticism.  After an interlude-like opening track called “Waiting,” the group rolls into “Drinks @ 8 (Words),”  a track that truly sets the mind to the early War days with sharp, clear instruments singing out with individualism. That’s followed by a really striking bluesy, N’Orleans-flavored version of Nat Adderly’s “Hummin’” where the trumpet does the hummin’, and the bass does some serious walkin’.  Sax action carries the hook and carries it well.  Gotta love it.  The album is chock full of solid examples of eclecticism, and you can just sense that this group obviously started out with that very concept in mind before settling down to craft this appealing little gem. Heavy on horns and melody, each tune carries evidence of having been carefully and meticulously dissected and manipulated until perfection was realized as much as the members wanted.  Tunes like the cleverly titled “Mitch Better Have My Bunny” are for true fusion jazz aficionados, as the bass, keys, and drums work off each other in a sweet time-rich dance so well choreographed that it’s almost sinful, as the sax tosses off some tight runs to spice up everything just right.  The very same thing can be said for the nice cover of Lonny Liston Smith’s “Expansions,” which features some smooth vocals, as well as cool flute.  Bassist Ron Holmes’ own “Slap That Thang” slaps it thick and funky with plenty of horn help.  This is a great debut effort by a group of guys determined to make a lasting impression as bonafide jazz musicians with eclectic tastes and talents.  Mission accomplished.  – Ronald Jackson, The Smooth Jazz Ride 

fo/mo/deep – A Beautiful Bang, May 21, 2012 : A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing a very eclectic mix of jazz, funk, and world jams from a group called fo/mo/deep in its debut release appropriately titled Eclecticism. It was packed with body and powerful grooves that made this sophomore release, A Beautiful Bang, almost inevitable.     Full of the same style of smooth yet funky jazz and even more world vibes with smart phrasing and timing, sharp keys playing, plenty of floor shakin’ bottom, and crisp sax work, this new project should be received as well, if not better, than its predecessor.   Rockin’ the house from its funky, dance-me-all-over-the-joint lead track, “Jawjacka’,” this album promises right off the break to be an attention-getter, and it easily lives up to that promise. Following with a mellow, cool, and very melodic blues number titled “Martini Blues,” it’s obvious that the diversity that lived and breathed so well in the group’s debut album also does so here in very refreshing fashion.   The album’s funk element is clear with tracks like the previously mentioned lead track, as well as “Mama Said, Mama Said” and the spoken-word Afro-beat classic by Fela Kuti titled “Gentleman,” which could easily be the highlight of this album because of its original passion and story. Not to be outdone, the appearance of the blues on tracks like the previously mentioned “Martini Blues” and “My Baby Girl’s Gots the Blues, Biues” is wonderfully potent.   The album shows off that wondrous balance that the group displayed on its debut. Tracks like “Da Ba Di Do (Sonrisa de Zoe)” (with its cool timing and exotic backing vocals), the title track, Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay,” “Wanting,” the marvelous cover of Coltrane’s “Naima,” “Plethora of Pleasant Thoughts” and the beautiful “The Road,” all seduce and persuade with such magnificent ease.   The project clearly spans the diversity of music from Brazilian to African-influenced to reggae to straight-ahead to neo-soul to a good ol’ jazzy romance track infused with R&B.   This is, simply put, good music played by musicians who know and appreciate good music…period. Kudos to fo/mo/deep for a job very well done. – Ronald Jackson, The Smooth Jazz Ride