Various Artists

Smooth Jazz: Chilled Cuts for Cool Cats

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The title "smooth jazz" might scare some listeners into avoiding this 12-cut, hour-long compilation, thinking it might be full of timid adult contemporary jazz along the lines of Kenny G.. As it happens, however, it's a pretty high-quality assortment of mellow jazz by major talents, including Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Charles Mingus, Art Pepper, Stan Getz, Nat and Cannonball Adderley, and Bobby Hutcherson, to name just the most famous figures. It's relaxing, yes, but not at all slick or sappy, providing jazz of integrity for chilling out to or eating dinner by. It's not all ballads, or even all slower-than-normal tempo -- Miles Davis' "Half Nelson" is even-paced early bop, for instance, while Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis gives "Secret Love" a bossa nova beat, and the Adderley Brothers invest "Caribbean Cutie" with a Latin lilt. What a shame, then, that a compilation that gives smooth jazz a better name has track listings lacking in basic illuminating details like original years of recording and labels of release, though a few dates were squeezed into the liner notes. Jazz collectors will likely not be too interested in the disc, featuring as it does performers whose work is well-represented by many in-print albums (though only one song, "'Round Midnight," done here by Hank Jones -- might be familiar to non-jazzbos). The more casual listener, though, will appreciate its wide-ranging gathering of mid-20th century jazz cuts, and this might even rope in some Kenny G. listeners who'll find it a good taster for the more authentic stuff.