CD Reviews

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Webmaster: Len Mullenger

Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke


Various Artists

Columbia Double CD 508220 2


CD 1

1. Turn It Out - Peter White
2. Streets Ahead - Chris Botti
3. Shadow - Billy Cobham
4. That's The Way Of The World - Martin Taylor
5. Another Day ( Remix ) - Buckshot LeFonque
6. Never Too Much - Luther Vandross
7. Can You Stop The Rain? - Grover Washington Jr.
8. Maria - Yoshiro Nakamura
9. Wade In The Water - Ramsey Lewis
10. It Had To Be You - Steve Tyrell
11. Summer Breeze - The Isley Brothers
12. Glow - Kirk Whalum
13. East River Drive - Stanley Clarke
14. Spindrift - Tom Scott
15. Mystica - Gato Barbieri

CD 2

1. Strawberry Moon - Grover Washington Jr.
2. Fantasy - Peter White
3. What Gives - Dan Siegel
4. Everyday People - Sly And The Family Stone
5. Les Voyages - Clementine
6. You Bet Your Love - Herbie Hancock
7. Sara Smile - Eric Gale
8. Diggin' On James Brown - Tower Of Power
9. Mystical Dreamer - Lonnie Liston Smith
10. Parle Moi De Toi - Richard Bona
11. My Latin Brother - George Benson
12.Do It Again - Marta Mus
13. Nitelife - Martin Taylor
14. Green Flower Street - M. Sasaji & L.A. Allstars
15. Union - Chris Botti

Forget about the title of this release, it is an excellent compilation of music from the early seventies right up to the present day. Unfortunately record companies ( and critics ! ) seem to have the need to put music into categories, possibly to attract the purchaser, but, as in the case of this disc, it could quite conceivably have the opposite outcome. I do not feel that this selection has any more connection with Summer than with any other time of the year. I also feel that the term " smooth " is derogatory in its concept to most of the tracks here.

Perhaps the greatest oversight on this double CD is the lack of information contained in the liner notes. Apart from the year of each track there are no further details either about personnel or album title. This is a great disappointment as there are artists whose work is not particularly familiar, but it would be beneficial to me and to many other listeners to be able to discover more about these releases, and , possibly purchase the original recording ( surely this is one of the primary ideas behind the concept of the compilation).

There are many highlights on this set - some old friends , some new experiences. Grover Washington Jr. has been a personal favourite for many years. He was an artist who, probably through categorisation, failed to receive the recognition he deserved from the hard core Jazz fans. He was certainly one of the most accomplished multi - instrumentalists in music, sharing with the likes of James Moody and Roland Kirk the ability to be totally convincing on whatever instrument he happened to be playing. His soprano excursion on "Can You Stop The Rain ?" ( from the album "Soulful Strut ") is particularly effective. He was one of the few players who had such a high degree of control of this maverick of an instrument - having played it myself for some 25 years I can really admire his musicianship !

Other notable selections on Disc 1 include Martin Taylor's "That's The Way Of The World",The Isley Brother's "Summer Breeze"( where does this fit into "Smooth Jazz"? ) and the superb offering from Gato Barbieri ( from the album " Que Pasa"). On Disc 2 I particularly enjoyed Sly And The Family Stone, Grover, Lonnie Liston Smith and the absolutely wonderful " Diggin' On James Brown" by Tower Of Power. For all my reservations as to the production of this compilation I must recommend it most strongly both as a way to discover new music and as a pure delight in its own right.

Dick Stafford

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