Various Artists

Blue Port Jazz Sampler

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This release hawks the virtues of the BluePort label's first eight releases by teasing the listener with samples from each. The CD features a stable of fine, mainly West Coast jazz musicians, all of whom offer absorbing and fresh renditions of mostly standard material; the collection allows the jazz fan to become acquainted with their talents before deciding which album to purchase. There is not a bad track on this CD, but some deserve to be singled out for special mention. Tenor sax player Noel Jewkes, with his quartet, manages to create a modern sound without losing the essence of the song he's playing. Listen to his haunting film noir soulful sax on the first chorus of "Laura," before he moves into a John Coltrane-style ballad treatment of this lovely tune. His exploration of the tenor saxophone player's anthem "Body and Soul" is inviting, imaginative, and introspective. Both of these cuts are from his album If and When the Stars. Another album highlight is Nancy Marano's vocalizing of a medley of "Never Let Me Go"/"Goodbye." She does a lovely segue from the former to the latter as her dark, deep voice connects these two tunes, writing a story that moves from pleading to resigned disappointment. This one takes your breath away. The album from which this medley is culled is Sure Thing. The melodic possibilities of the bass are brought to fruition by Chris Colangelo on "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" and "Time Remembered." On the former he is joined by the minimalist piano of Jane Getz, continuing her comeback after a long hiatus from jazz. In addition to the admirable musicality of this CD, the sound is outstanding due to the efforts of producer/engineer Jim Merod working with sound technology developed by Robert Lee. Thus, this sampler has achieved its purpose, tempting listeners to purchase the albums from which these cuts came. Whether or not one gives in to the temptation, this sampler by itself is worth having.

blue highlight denotes track pick