Various Artists

Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz: Pop

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The Pop installment in Rhino's Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz series concentrates on jazzy pop-crossover hits and tracks popular on smooth jazz radio. Complaints from jazz purists regarding simplicity aside, the main problem with the compilation is that it covers too large a span of time -- the first six tracks date from the '60s and '70s, while the last four are from the '80s and '90s. That could be a major sticking point for listeners who differentiate between the coolly funky earlier tunes and the less organic-sounding later material. Still, many pop-jazz fans will simply hear a (probably familiar) collection of smoothly polished, consistently catchy compositions like Hugh Masekela's "Grazing in the Grass," Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good," David Sanborn's "Bang Bang," Candy Dulfer and David A. Stewart's "Lily Was Here," and Herbie Mann's "Memphis Underground." Plus, there aren't many compilations devoted to hit jazz singles, making the collection that much more appealing.

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