Various Artists

The Best Smooth Jazz...Ever! [2 CD Blue Note]

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This incredibly light, fun, and surprisingly hip two-CD collection from Blue Note uses the term "smooth jazz" in an unexpected way. Rather than referring to the genre, "smooth" refers to the temperament and feel of these sometimes funky/sometimes poppy tracks that are selected from six decades of jazz. Dave Koz, Richard Elliot, and a couple other names could be filed in the smooth jazz section, but Adderley, Baker, and Byrd are too classic for that, and it's easy to imagine the legions of funky Medeski, Martin & Wood fans recoiling in horror over the title's Kenny G. insinuation. In actuality the disc is a whole lot of fun. Most of it is very hip fun and very little of it is wallpaper. The Bobby McFerrin, Ramsey Lewis, and Chet Baker cuts are obvious choices, but the inclusion of Charlie Hunter's smoky version of Roxy Music's "More Than This" is a very pleasant surprise and having such divergent sounds as St. Germain's "Latin Note" and Elza Soares' "Mas Que Nada" in the same collection is crafty cool. Perhaps Sauve Jazz would be a better title for this pleasing collection of refined and relaxing tunes.

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