Streetwize

Work It

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The second album from smooth jazz supergroup Streetwize is another stellar mix of funky urban chart-hits redone by Shanachie label sax star Kim Waters and friends. Featuring songs made popular by the likes of Gerald LeVert, Jennifer Lopez, and others, Work It! should serve as a revelation for smooth jazz fans and naysayers alike. It's not that the music here is really that different from most pop-jazz; the arrangements basically sound like the originals with some instrumental sections substituted for vocal verses. But by retaining the choruses -- redone by the likes of Masya and Charles Smith -- and production techniques including heavy bass, danceable drum beats, and buzzing hip-hop keyboards, the jazz soloists can take center stage against tracks as funky, if not more so than the originals. Trumpeter Randy Brecker waxes Donald Byrd over Kimberly Waters chanting "Is it worth it, let me work it/I put my thang down, flip it and reverse it" on Missy Elliott's "Work It." Kim Waters' takes on Nelly's role against the lead vocals of Rosanna Vitro on the Kelly Rowland hit "Dilemma." Other stand-out tracks include the quiet storm-ready version of LeVert's "Funny" and guitarist Wayne Bruce's infectious feature on "Luv U Better." This is a fun, street-savvy album that updates the notion of how smooth jazz can be presented.

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