Various Artists

Funky Jazz Party

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Funk is pretty consistently sacrificed to the romantic imperative on this pleasant, but ultimately not very interesting, collection. There's a gentle strut underlying Rick Brown's smooth-jazz trumpet showcase "Nightfall," and Avenue Blue shakes its understated booty on "A Woman's Touch." But Steve Cole's "Stay Awhile" is more typical -- it buries any perceptible rhythmic tension under a thick, warm aural blanket. Randy Crawford's "I'd Be an Angel" is a very nice song and Smoke n'Function gives up the genuine funk on "Smokee." The only important question about an album like this is that of utility -- will it get the listener in the mood? Probably, as long as he or she isn't an anal retentive music critic.

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