Fans of smooth jazz who have been into the music since its inception forget to realize how intimidating it is for those just getting into it to get acquainted with all the joys -- and all the artists -- the genre has to offer. There have been a handful of multi-artist samplers in the past, but usually these have been released by one label to highlight its own artists exclusively. Native Language Music has released this wonderful 15 track collection to draw people's attention to many of the great artists who were nominated for top awards at last winter's First Annual Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards. Certainly having a CD like this in the marketplace will help the credibility of the awards (and get people excited for next year's show in Chicago), but this collection serves a much greater purpose: giving the longtime smooth jazz fan a mostly familiar feast for the ears and offering the new fan a chance to get acquainted with the best the genre has to offer. There's a broad spectrum -- from legends like Herb Alpert (the Jeff Lorber produced "Sugar Cane") and Patti Austin ("In & Out of Love") to longtime smooth jazz staples Craig Chaquico ("Red Rocks"), Paul Taylor ("Avenue"), The Rippingtons ("'Til We're Together Again"), David Benoit ("Drive Time") and Dave Koz ("Love Is on the Way"). Marc Antoine adds an exotic twist with "Latin Quarter," and Gota -- more an acid jazz guy not as popular among mainstream smooth jazz fans -- chimes in with "In the City Life." The only previously released track is the opener, the moody and reflective "Relentless" by Brian Bromberg with Richard Elliot. Native Language features hits from its own artists Jeff Kashiwa ("Hyde Park," one of 2000's best tracks) and Steve Oliver, and newcomer Grady Nichols is a nice addition to what amounts to an essential part of every fan's collection.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran