Various Artists

Smooth Jazz Grooves

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It's a shame that the whole British acid jazz movement has never quite made it big on American radio stations playing smooth jazz, because the grooving and exotic type of music on this outstanding sampler would liven up the oft maligned safe playlists. Aside from some playful dense percussion patterns on such tracks as The Apostles' cover of "Mercy Mercy Me" (sorry, no credits, so we can't know who's the jamming guy on sax) and the retro-minded "Heavy Vibes" (by vibes driven ensemble Vibraphonic), there's the organic Latin jam of "Ain't No Sunshine" whose arrangement almost makes you forget the original version. Vibes play a big role on that one, too, as a counterpoint to the Latin piano harmony. Brand New Heavies is an R&B/acid jazz, vocal, and instrumental band that never quite got its due stateside, but the brassy textures floating over a thick retro-soul groove on "Sphynx" is about as artsy as pop gets. Speaking of retro, Snowboy gives the Rhodes and B-3 an intense dual workout on the trance gem "Astralisation." You may not know these bands by name but this is a must if you like the genre.

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