Various Artists

Classic Jazz-Funk, Vol. 2 [Mastercuts]

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The Mastercuts label's great Classic Jazz-Funk series kicked off in 1991, and like the other volumes released throughout the '90s, the second volume more or less concentrates on the '70s end of jazz-funk as opposed to the form's beginnings during the '60s. Jazz artists were incorporating more potent and often easily danceable backbeats and were also allowing for the R&B of the time to infiltrate their sound, causing purists to shriek in horror at the break from tradition and -- just as importantly -- the crossover appeal. Though this series was aimed at the rare groove crowd in the U.K. that was at full boil during the '90s, many of these cuts have always been valued in the underground clubs of the U.S. -- from David Mancuso's earliest New York Loft parties in the '70s and on through the gatherings that have featured roots-conscious house DJs from Chicago, Detroit, New York, and New Jersey. Not only that, but rap DJs have constantly visited the jazz-funk well for prime sample material. Featured on Classic Jazz-Funk, Vol. 2 are Idris Muhammad's "Could Heaven Ever Be Like This" (more of a jazz-disco fusion and, save for the guitar solo, a practically perfect Paradise Garage nugget), Roy Ayers' "Poo Poo La La" (surprisingly, this 1984 selection is used in favor of more obvious and popular choices like "Running Away" and "Everybody Loves the Sunshine"), David Sanborn's "Chicago Song" (stretching all the way to 1987), and George Duke's "Brazilian Love Affair" (just one of the keyboardist's late-'70s greats). Thankfully, the inclusion of the '80s material here did not signal that Mastercuts had a short supply of prime '70s cuts to deliver throughout the rest of the series.

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