Various Artists

Sax Me

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At its best, smooth jazz can be a compelling hybrid between jazz proper and urban R&B, and in its most contemporary form, a bridge between jazz and hip-hop, but unfortunately too often smooth jazz is more smooth than jazz or anything else, and stops just this side of being mood music in an elevator. On Sax Me, the sax solos are as sleek as waxed string, but working against rigid synthesized beats and backgrounds, there is none of the call and response interplay between instruments and musicians that allows anything to truly take flight. That said, tracks like Kirk Whalum's "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" and Euge Groove's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" are engaging, even if they suggest possibilities more than they actually reach for them.

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