This Smooth Jazz Tribute to Michael Jackson's Thriller by the Smooth Jazz All-Stars doesn't feel much like an outing in contemporary/smooth jazz (which would be interesting). Instead, it sounds like a group of young music students in a home studio, working out Jackson's songs over simplistic, pre-programmed rhythms and synths. The saxophone intonations are virtually flat -- this sounds doubly annoying when they are multi-tracked. Also, when it comes to programming, nothing imaginative is provided in terms of texture or dynamic, making songs that are so iconic -- "Thriller" "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," "Human Nature," "Billie Jean," "Beat It," etc. -- sound not only lackluster, but downright dull. Given that we don't have any individual identities for the "Smooth Jazz All-Stars," it wouldn't be a surprise to discover that "they" are a single person recording these tunes by rote. Avoid.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek