Released in consecutive years from 1999 through 2001, the first three releases in the popular Higher Octave Is...Smooth Grooves series were a celebration of the more rhythmic elements of smooth jazz. On each compilation, the concept was much like that of many other label collections over the years -- bring together the funkiest tracks from Higher Octave's recent catalog to expose new listeners to these artists in an appealing format. Fans of the series expecting the usual presentation on Smooth Grooves, Vol. 4 will be in for a happy, rhythm-intensive shock. Jumping off deep into a cutting edge, clubland vibe, the new collection takes the popular all-star compilation series to a whole new sonic level, presenting 12 fully remixed songs by top label artists in a fresh, dance-driven format that flows continuously from track to track, simulating the club experience. Masterminding the new, more groove-than-smooth approach is remix maestro Rafe Gomez, a New Jersey based veteran club DJ who hosts the popular In the Mix show on the Planet Jazz cable radio channel, on Sirius Satellite Radio. Gomez takes the mid-tempo tunes to a deeper level by re-equalizing (EQ'ing) the songs, and increasing the bass bottom of each. Then, calculating beats per minute from lowest to highest, he sequences the tunes in order, adding beats per minute, then re-edits the tracks (sometimes eliminating long intros) to create seamless segues to keep the grooves hopping for over 50 minutes. Half of the smooth jazz artists appearing have been on previous collections in the series -- Craig Chaquico, 3rd Force, Bryan Savage, Brian Hughes, Acoustic Alchemy, and Jimmy Sommers. Funk being the primary working element for Gomez, the DJ/mixer was also no doubt excited to work with the appropriately titled "(Do You Wanna) Jam?" by sax legend Tom Scott. Higher Octave's other stylistic arenas are also well represented in the mix, including Cooly's Hot Box, French sister harmony duo Les Nubians. Canadian "trip-jazz" duo Four80East, Yulara, and Sacred Spirit, Vol. 8: Jazzy Chillout's "Love Comes My Way," which features a vocal sample by Ella Fitzgerald.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran