Instinct Records has brought together an exceptional compilation of contemporary jazz in a sweet package of three CD’s, that have been organized by mood. It’s called This i…
Instinct Records has brought together an exceptional compilation of contemporary jazz in a sweet package of three CD’s, that have been organized by mood. It’s called This is Smooth Jazz .... The Box Set. Disc one titled "Morning Drive -Time Grooves is better than caffeine to jump start your morning. Disc two titled, Soul Full Of Jazz, captures the soul in jazz music and Disc three "Nighttime is the Right Time is for falling into dreamland or into loving arms. Each disc has 12 cuts, close to an hour’s worth of listening pleasure times three.
This compilation features some well- known smooth jazz artist combined with international artists from France Germany, Japan, and the UK. Some of these names might be unfamiliar, but it’s the music you‘ll know and love.Disc one titled "Morning Drive -Time Grooves is full of high energy grooves.Skip the double mocha latte, this CD is definitely a wake-up call, relaxing, but full of enough blood pumping rhythm to get you to work with your eyes open. Many of the artists on this disc walk the defining edge between smooth and acid jazz.
The first three cuts are smooth and prancing, with a nice interplay between horns and keyboards. They are similar enough to allow for an almost seamless transition, but each group brings a unique style. Cut one, "Uptown Groovin’" by Soundscape UK is followed by "Super-Real Feel" by Duncan Miller, featuring Chris Standring. Standring has another groove of his own on this disc called "‘Nuff Said" which has a great jive- percussive beat. On the third track, "Unforgettable Feeling" by Gota, the horns are dancing and the keyboard gets on the floor to join them.
Cut six, "Coconut Kiss" by The VIP Club, is the title cut of CD previously reviewed by this reviewer for this site. The saxophone is sweet and the track is full of anticipation. This group was put together by Wolfgang Hafner and includes artists Chuck Loeb, Kim Waters, Will Lee and Jeff Golub.
"The Whole Nine" by Craig T. Cooper, has a back rhythm that’s reminiscent of Ain’t No Body by Chaka Khan, it’s not a surprise when you learn Cooper has performed with premiere soulsters, including Anita Baker, George Duke George Benson, Patrice Rushen And Quincy Jones. The last two cuts are smoother and slower, as if to say now that you’re awake let’s kick back and relax a bit. "Coastal Route" by Beatifik is beatific, ringing and pretty with elliptical rhythms, it’s a nice little trip. "Crazy Horse" by Brian Tarquin is really mellow and sexy.
Disc two "Soul Full Of Jazz", must be a play on words, because not only is it full of soul, but also soulful, most of the lyrics deal with love gone wrong and yearning. The rhythm is percussive and defined with strong female R&B lead vocals.
The first three cuts "Believe" by the James Taylor Quartet, "Misunderstood " by Modern Tribe, "Everlasting Love" by Nigel Martinez definitely fall into the R&B groove. The fourth cut, "Summer Rain" by Gleeps is similar, yet different. Despite, the Latin beat and soulful flavors, there’s an exotic edgy lilt, because this group hails from Japan.
"My Baby " by CFM Band is a fun track that goes from doo-wop to Motown to jazz scat in 0 to 60. "Magic", by Shakatak, is cross between sixty’s mellow yellow and Suzanne Vega. "Joy and Pain" by Count Basic is done with respect and feeling for the Maze classic. "Do It Right" by Act Of Faith is a beautiful and soulful ballad in which the vocals echo the yearning whine of the saxophone. Cuts eight through eleven, "First Class Love" by A.J. "Heart Strings" by Cathi Ogden, "Heaven Ain’t Gonna Happen" by Patrick Harriot are sweeter and more sentimental with a strong melody. The final cut "So Cool", is quiet instrumental with a little soothing vocalese.
Disc three "Nighttime is the Right Time is my favorite disc in the set. This CD is full of mellow, yet rhythmically and vocally meaty songs. Every single cut is a jewel.
Cut one "Mellow" by London groove-jazz sensation is smooth, yet bumping jazz tune! Good beat, and great guitar, it has all the elements, including a mellow funky beat and a bluesy guitar. The Jazz Steppers shares a history having worked as top session musicians. Their first release scored the group one of England’s honored Soul Music awards.
I liked the vocals on cut two, "Indigenous Love", right away and it’s no wonder, Keni Burke is one of the Five Stair Steps from "Ooh ooh Child" "fame" in the early seventy’s. I remember wearing out my older sister’s Ooh ooh Child 45 (when she was out of the house of course). Keni originated the bass line that set the standard for today’s groove oriented R&B. His Intro to Risin’ To The Top has been sampled by over twenty soul, swing and hip-hop artists. It’s so seductive it makes you want to say Ooh ooh Keni!
Cut four, "Breathing Space" by Jill Saward, is a beautifully sensual ballad. Saward has been the lead vocalist for the group Shakatak for many years. "Nightlife" by Martin Fuss flows for days; the man can play a saxophone, need I say more.
"Animal" by Woody Cunningham, is named appropriately, there’s definitely some pheromones working through the vocals. Wow! "The Gift" by Jon Dalton is a smooth guitar rhapsody. On cut seven, For The Love of you by Victor Haynes, you know the song, and the sax and vocals are lovely. "Searching" by Tomio Inoue is an alto gallop with a reggae feel; it’s very interesting. "It’s a Feel Thing "by Cathi Ogden, her second song in the set, is already a radio favorite. It’s rich in vocals and rhythm, yet pretty, very pretty.
"Red "by Exodus Quartet is like a rippling mirage in the dessert, seductive and mellow while cut 11, "It All Goes Round And Round" by Nicolas Bearde, has the elegance of Nancy Wilson. Bearde’s sound is similar to Jon Lucien, or Jonathan Butler.
This is an amazing set. It would be great for a jazz aficionado who looking to explore more than the smooth jazz radio fare and branch out a little into international water. It’s a keeper.