A few years ago, as a funked-up, multi-faceted smooth urban jazz vibe was taking hold of his emerging Jacksonville, FL ensemble, guitarist and group founder Ellis White and his band mates were working on tunes to incorporate into their live set. One day during rehearsal, White called out, “Hey, did you Catch That Groove I just did?” That phrase became the perfect moniker for the freewheeling, high octane, rhythm driven band, whose current core lineup featuring bassist John Baker, keyboardist Malik Graham and saxophonist/flutist Michael Stanley jelled in 2013 – several years after White launched the band as a vocal-guitar-sax trio in 2010. Trumpeter Max Bednarchik came on board later to create a powerhouse two-piece horn section with Stanley. The group also recently added Percussionist Elvyn Rodriguez and Drummer Omar Torres.
As Catch The Groove builds its reputation in their home base region and beyond, genre fans seeking fresh sounds are gravitating towards the group’s uniquely democratic structure – where each musician has an alternating lead voice and they cleverly pair two instruments at the same time (sax/trumpet, guitar/sax, guitar/trumpet, sax/keyboard, etc.) to create richly textured lead melodies and harmony lines. The group recently released their eclectic, infectious debut album Smilin' In Paradise, which starts off strong with the guitar driven, old school funk/soul/jazz track “Shaken Not Stirred,” composed and produced by #1 smooth jazz hit maker artist Nils.
Catch The Groove’s diversity is fueled by the unique geographic origins, professional backgrounds, stylistic leanings and the expertise of its members. A native of Portland, ME, Ellis White studied with prominent guitarist John Shaffer and has played in blues and soft rock bands that have opened for artists like the late Warren Zevon and John Cafferty. Detroit-bred John Baker has been a staple of many contemporary/smooth jazz bands over the past 25 years, some of which have opened for genre greats like Marion Meadows and Spyro Gyra; he’s also worked with saxophonist Tim Reeves and the Detroit based smooth jazz group Partners In Time which included saxophonist Dave McMurray.
Nashville native Michael Stanley studied jazz at Berklee College of Music, Peabody School of Music and Vanderbilt, and also privately with top sax teacher Joe Viola. He played in military orchestra bands when he was in the service, then carved out a career performing straight ahead jazz; he has also performed with The Dave Clark Five and Billy Joe Royal. Malik Graham, from Winston-Salem, NC, is a heavyweight in the R&B world whose prior contemporary jazz oriented band opened for genre greats Bob James and Gerald Albright. Catch The Groove’s sole Florida native is Max Bednarchik, who has a degree in jazz from the University of North Florida and has played in various jazz and salsa ensembles.
Percussionist Elvyn Rodriguez hails from Puerto Rico. Elvyn initially began playing the trumpet, however always had a great interest in Latin Percussion and has studied under and performed alongside world renowned percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo as well as others and has toured much of the world performing as a Latin percussionist. He has opened for BB King and also worked with Justo Betancourt, Raul Berrios, Conjunto Imperial, Benjamin Navarro and Son Con Clave. Drummer Barbara Martin is originally from Guantanamo City, Cuba. She went to Vocational School of the Arts in Guantanamo, then Professional School of the Arts in Santa Clara and eventually attending the University of the Arts in Havana, Cuba as a Percussion Major. During her studies, she had the opportunity to perform with the Harvard Symphony Orchestra and was also the lead percussionist in The Santa Clara Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band for more than 9 years. She has played with various bands in Cuba playing popular and traditional music of Cuba like Rason, Ella's Son, Elizabeth and Razones, Cadencia and Alter Ego. She eventually taught percussion at the schools that she went to as a student. In 2012, she relocated to Doha, Qatar to play nightly as a percussionist and lead vocalist at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel for four years. In 2016, she made her way to the US and has since been playing in various bands as percussionist and vocalist in various settings like Catch the Groove, The Integral Latin Band, Barbara and the Boys, Bomba Jazz, Barbarita and the Bandidos, Martin/Soriano Duo and various solo projects. She also teaches voice, piano and percussion regularly at several private schools in the Jacksonville area. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, Guitarist Chris Soriano has been playing music for over 25 years. He graduated at The University of North Florida in 2003 with an Art Degree. He went back to UNF study Music after about a decade to pursue becoming a professional musician and music teacher. He currently teaches music and plays in various bands locally in different styles like Catch the Groove, The Integral Latin Band, Bomba Jazz, Barbara and the Boys, Barbarita and the Bandidos, Martin/Soriano Duo and various solo projects.
“The fun part of this band,” says Ellis “is getting to play, perform and now write and record with an amazingly talented and diverse group of musicians. I have a tremendous amount of respect for these fabulous guys. We work well together because everyone brings a uniquely creative spirit and musical voice to the mix.”
“It pulled me like a magnet, jazz did, because it was a way that I could express myself. ”
— Herbie Hancock