Various Artists

The Best Smooth Jazz Ever [GRP/Universal]

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The Best Smooth Jazz Ever is packed with smooth jazz radio hits and highlights the musicians who have brought depth and soul to the most successful contemporary jazz label in the world over the past 20 years. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of GRP Records, this two-CD set features some of the most respected names in the jazz style, including Al Jarreau, Lee Ritenour, Ramsey Lewis, and Patti Austin, as well a hot new rendition of Steve Winwood's "Roll With It," performed by David Benoit, Richard Elliot, and Jeff Golub under the group name Group 3. Despite the fact that several of the artists on this compilation no longer record for GRP -- such as the Rippingtons, the Yellowjackets, and Acoustic Alchemy -- many of them got their start at GRP, a label co-founded by pianist Dave Grusin. There are many exceptional highlights within this set, including Al Jarreau's hit from his 2000 GRP debut, Tomorrow Today, titled "Just to Be Loved," and the late George Howard's rendition of "Baby Come to Me" from his 1991 CD titled Love and Understanding. However, the exclusion of songs performed or composed by Dave Grusin from this special anniversary compilation is very noticeable, especially since the label has received over 80 Grammy nominations and other coveted awards under his aegis. Otherwise this excellent compilation speaks for itself and remains a first-rate selection for any contemporary jazz collection.

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