Samuel Prather is a human jukebox — a man of 1,000 riffs, grooves and tunes. Put in a request and his ensemble, the Groove Orchestra, will lay into seemingly any tune with mellifluous horn melodies, driving funk guitar and pulsating rhythms. To hear Prather, 36, with the eight or nine members of Groove Orchestra is to watch an artist and his band in constant motion, the beat morphing underfoot. He guides the proceedings from the piano and keyboard, but he’s a multi-instrumentalist whose timbales and other percussion instruments are never far away. And when the moment calls for it, he also picks up the microphone, his baritenor resonating with rough-hewn warmth.
He plays with a quartet – capable of making head-spinning music – for the Kennedy Center’s “Arts Across America” program.