On first listen, the songs on The Very Best of Nelson Rangell don't sound any different than the kind of smooth, lite-jazz/easy listening pop that one would find on a Spyro Gyra record, and certainly this album fits comfortably in that oft-maligned genre. What makes Rangell different from, say, David Sanborn or Kenny G is not his arrangements, which tend to be pedestrian and colorless (you've heard these MIDI synthesizers and George Benson-influenced guitars dozens of times before), but his taste for songs that have some real melodic weight to them, like Bacharach/David's classic "A House Is Not a Home" or his own "Little Dream Girl." Add in the fact that Rangell is actually a gifted soloist capable of twisting away from simple, melodic lines without losing the cozy accessibility that's the calling card of this style of jazz, and that the songs' relatively extended playing times -- most are in the five-to-eight-minute range -- give him room to stretch out, and The Very Best of Nelson Rangell becomes something of an exemplar of the style. It won't win over confirmed smooth jazz haters, but this is about as good as this type of music gets.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason