Various Artists

Free Soul: The Classics of Blue Note

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With a title as generic (albeit grammatically misguided) as Free Soul: The Classic of Blue Note, you'd be forgiven for assuming this is yet another uninspired compilation featuring the same Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, and Herbie Hancock jukebox hits available on every other Blue Note anthology. But the Free Soul series never takes the easy way out: its approach to jazz is consistently insightful and reliably eccentric, always forgoing the tried and true to dig up deep album cuts, alternate takes and unreleased tracks to deliver a fresh new perspective on music you thought you knew inside and out. Like its predecessor, this second volume in the series is a sample and breakbeat fetishist's delight, compiling another piping-hot batch of the funkiest and hardest-hitting performances the Blue Note roster ever delivered -- this is soul-jazz at its most incendiary, and together the performances create an effective composite portrait of what the label's oft-maligned output of the late '60s and early '70s was truly about. Highlights include Bobbi Humphrey's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," Ronnie Foster's "Golden Lady," Moacir Santos' "Sampaguita," and Andrew Hill's "Illusion."

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