The Groove Boutique, Vol. 1: A Seamless Blend of Smooth Jazzy Grooves is the natural extension of producer and compiler Rafe Gomez's nationally syndicated radio program, The Groove Boutique. Gomez is easy on the ears, concocting a particularly summery set of bubbling-under cookers and shimmering smooth jazz cuts by an interesting array of artists. There are a slew of the well-known funky assemblages by the Headhunters ("Headhunting"), Chris Botti ("The Last Three Minutes"), and Ramsey Lewis ("All Around the World") that anchor the set, but a host of other moments here really get it off. The album opens with Orange Factory's sultry, slippery "Body Tight," which is matched only by Praful's honeyed saxophone shimmy on "One Day Deep." In addition, Soulive's contribution, "Ne-Ne," embodies the entire spirit of soul-jazz past, present, and future with its in-the-pocket snare and sax swagger. The 4/4 loopy and funky soul on Alfonso Blackwell's "Looking Fine" is a treat, as is Gomez's own mix assemblage, "Icy." This set may not be for hardcore jazz fans or anything, but it certainly fits a summery chillout bill.
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Review by Thom Jurek