02 NOV 09 JONATHAN WIDRAN
The relaxing image of a warm, inviting tropical sandy beach, green-blue sea and pastel skies adorning the cover of the recent 12 track collection Smooth Jazz Hits is exactly what the days look like for the thousands of hardcore genre fans who have enjoyed various smooth jazz oriented all-star cruises to the Mexican Riviera and Caribbean over the past decade. Back on board at night, however, those same fans are grooving along to the infectious melodies and cool, funky vibe served up by many of the Concord, Peak and Heads Up artists whose top hits are included in the set.
With the exception of Wayne Brady (the soulful, mid-tempo ballad "Ordinary"), the comic and TV host who made his recording debut with 2008's A Long Time Coming, and the supergroup Fourplay ("Fortune Teller"), every one of these artists representing the best of the Concord family's smooth output has headlined on one or more of these voyages. One of the happy problems with the genre is that casual fans are hard to come by. Once they are hooked, fans make the music a lifestyle and fashion these artists as a soundtrack to their lives.
If you like sax, you're in luck. Check out Kenny G's "Tango," Walter Beasley's "Coolness," Boney James' cover of The Stylistics' "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)," Paul Taylor's "Ladies' Choice," Najee's "Out Of A Dream," Marion Meadows' "Dressed To Chill" and Mindi Abair's "Smile." Guitar fans will gravitate towards Chuck Loeb's "Good To Go," Paul Brown's "Ol' Skoolin'," Norman Brown's "Pop's Cool Groove" and Larry Carlton's crisp work on the Fourplay track.
Various Artists, from Smooth Jazz Hits
Wayne Brady, from A Long Time Coming
Kenny G, from Rhythm & Romance
Out Of A Dream
Najee, from Rising Sun
in this playlist.