Bob James

The Essential Collection: 24 Smooth Jazz Classics

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Issued by the U.K.-based Metro Doubles label in 2002, Essential Collection: 24 Smooth Jazz Classics only overlaps 2001's Restoration anthology with eight of the same tracks, and concentrates on material originally released from 1974 to 1984 (apart from 1995's "Ensenada Madness," everything fits into that time frame). A fine chronological overview of James' most productive period, this is a very attractive package that includes informative and insightful liner notes. "Nautilus," "Westchester Lady," "Take Me to the Mardi Gras," "Angela (Theme From Taxi)," "Touchdown," and "Sign of the Times" are among the inclusions. Naturally, this double-disc set can serve any number of purposes: as pleasant, occasionally funky background music, as proof of your extensive knowledge of hip-hop samples, or as cruel torture for your jazz purist peers.

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