Various Artists

Blue Note for Après-midi Grand Cru

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What compiler Toru Hashimoto did for coffeeshop musical ambience with his exquisite Café Après-midi series he promises to do for wine bars with the Grand Cru series -- like its predecessor, the Grand Cru series collects lyrical, effortlessly engaging tunes from across the musical spectrum, albeit favoring moodier, gentler late-night fare in keeping with the overall raison d'etre. The far-ranging eclecticism that is Hashimoto's trademark remains the biggest selling point, however, and for this volume focusing on the inimitable jazz of the Blue Note imprint, he goes against the grain to focus on the label's output from the late '60s and early '70s, an era much-maligned by purists but much-beloved by successive generations of crate diggers and groove aficionados. The mood here is light and easy, mellow comedown music perfect for nocturnal decompression -- highlights include Grant Green's "Wives and Lovers," Bobby Hutcherson's "Maiden Voyage," Andrew Hill's "Alfred," and Sheila Jordan's "Falling in Love With Love."

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