Various Artists

Soul Jazz Legacy: CTI: The Master Collection Vol. 2

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If this is soul-jazz, this two-CD collection of material from the vaults of the CTI label is certainly drawn from the most fusion-oriented, pop-inclined shade of that genre. There's no denying that it had more appeal to some segments of the mainstream audience than other breeds of jazz. But this anthology of 1970s fusion and vocal pop-jazz crossover -- including some very estimable names, such as Nina Simone, Milt Jackson, Esther Phillips, Stanley Turrentine, Astrud Gilberto, George Benson, and Freddie Hubbard -- does not show soul, jazz, or the combination of the two (often with some Latin spice and disco thrown in) to their best musical advantage. Many of the 18 tracks are sappy and slick, showing the pop-jazz fusion style at its less musically effective and forceful, and similarly many of the cuts by the best artists are far from their best work. There are exceptions: Turrentine blows pretty well on the nine-minute "Storm" (which includes Blue Mitchell, George Benson, Ron Carter, and Billy Cobham in the backup band); Idris Muhammad's "Hey Pocky a-Way" has some real soul-funk; and Johnny Hammond gives Carole King's hit "It's Too Late" a swinging organ soul-jazz treatment. Overall, however, it's the sound of soul and jazz, not to mention talent, getting watered down, with no more than perfunctory annotation.