Various Artists

The Mood Mosaic, Vol. 2: Barnie's Groove

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After an interesting but inconsistent first volume, the Mood Mosaic lounge compilation series made a noticeable improvement on its second installment. Mood Mosaic, Vol. 2: Barnie's Grooves succeeds because it delivers a solid mix of soundtrack and easy listening cuts (plus the occasional soul track) that blend together nicely because they all have strong funk and jazz elements. Several of the tracks are studio-band covers of popular film and television themes: Henry Mancini takes the already-potent The Streets of San Francisco theme and transforms into a relentlessly grooving monster that switches back and forth between horn-driven funk and keyboard jazz without missing a beat, and Bobby Forrester does an interesting jazz version of the theme from Sanford & Son that uses the original theme's melody as a springboard for some tasty keyboard improvisations. There are also several strong original soundtrack cuts: Sammy Davis, Jr.'s classic "Baretta's Theme" finds that usually elegant crooner getting down over a surprisingly funky track driven by horns and a discoish bassline, while Alexandro Jodorowsky's "The Desert Is a Circle" is an epic, multi-part instrumental that covers everything from easy listening to jazz-funk as it restates its central, Ennio Morricone-styled theme in a variety of ways. Mood Mosaic, Vol. 2: Barnie's Grooves also features the occasional straightforward soul cut; the best of these is Jimmy Smith's "Root Down," a classic jazz instrumental whose throbbing bassline and scratching rhythm guitar riffs were later sampled by the Beastie Boys. This diverse batch of tracks hangs together nicely thanks to their similar reliance on jazz and funk mannerisms, making the disc a fun and consistently engaging listen from start to finish. As a result, Mood Mosaic, Vol. 2: Barnie's Grooves is one of the best volumes in this series and a treat for lounge fans who like their lounge music funky.

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