VOICES Notes and news on Contemporary Jazz releases
12 SEP 12 JONATHAN WIDRAN
Just as Concord Record's recent Smooth Jazz Hits: For Lovers collection was the perfect soundtrack for a romantic evening, its complementary 12-track set Smooth Jazz Hits: Ultimate Grooves is just the ticket for a joyful, carefree celebration.
The fact that the genre and radio format has been driven by sensual and funky urban rhythms for the past decade and a half makes it easy for the same artists to create ambiance for romantic nights and danceable road trip music for hardcore summer fun. Compilation producer Nick Phillips, the VP of Catalog and Jazz A&R at Concord Music Group, says about the spirited mix: "Selected exclusively from albums that have claimed the top half-dozen slots on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, this release brings together some of the most in-the-pocket recordings in smooth jazz today."
Most of the A-listers have been sharing their optimistic melodies and rhythmic flow for over 20 years: Dave Koz (who confidently declares, "Anything's Possible"), David Benoit (mixing exotic inspirations on "Botswana Bossa Nova"), Gerald Albright (cruising down "Highway 70"), Jeff Lorber Fusion ("Big Brother"), Norman Brown ("Come Go With Me"), Candy Dulfer ("On & On"), and Walter Beasley ("Oh Yeah").
Adding to the mix are The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman (partying French style on the "Riviera Jam"), Paul Brown & Marc Antoine ("Brother Earl") and Peter White (the high flying title track to Here We Go). The set is rounded out by two of the genre's top ten female sax voices of the past decade: Mindi Abair ("Any Way You Wanna") and Jessy J, stirring up some spicy "Hot Sauce" on the title track from her most recent recording.