Various Artists

Jazz Express Presents Autumn Moods: Warm Grooves for Colder Days

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What, pray tell, qualifies certain jazz songs as autumnal? It's a pretty murky premise to build a compilation CD around, although a couple of the song titles (Booker Ervin's "Autumn Leaves" and Hank Jones' "Summer's Gone") fit the concept. Whether this suits your fall mood or not, it's a decent if tenuously grouped anthology of tracks that, despite the "warm grooves for colder days" subtitle, would fit many listeners' conception of cool jazz, or cool jazz-indebted sounds. The majority of the 14 selections hail from the 1940s and 1950s, though some of the material was recorded in the 1980s, and some as recently as 2002. Jazz specialists probably won't have much use for a disc whose contents are so disparate and thematically vague, but casual jazz appreciators will enjoy it fine, as the actual quality of the music is pretty good, and suitable for a laid-back (but not blandly mellow) atmosphere. Some jazz giants are here, among them Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Lester Young, J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding (who pair up on "Blues in Twos"), and Kenny Burrell. And the compilation doesn't solely opt for the obvious, also including cuts by Booker Ervin, Houston Person, Hank Mobley, Hank Jones, and Curtis Fuller (whose snaky, haunting "Arabia" is a standout), all of whom may be welcome discoveries for the relative jazz novice. The jazz vocal numbers, which tend to be of much more recent vintage and by lesser-known artists (like Jamie Cullum, Stacey Kent, and Clare Teal), are relatively undistinguished, and suffer in comparison with the surrounding items by established jazz icons. Why, though, the lack of dates for some of the tracks (and original release information for any of them)? Is anyone really not going to buy this CD if such simple factual data is duly noted?

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