It was already a promising tracklist and the guarantee from Dimsa for good vibes - it was still much better then I expected!
Right the first track sets the mood, much more mellow than anticipated, I like it a lot! Had to think hard what this reminded me of - the vocals were a bit like D'Angelo's Brown Sugar and the melody was like David Sanborn's "When I'm With You" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgFred9xqM0)
However this track is much better than both of the other now that I listened to them. The bass sounds like Marcus Miller sometimes, would be interesting to know who plays it - bit of a Weather Report and Joe Zawinul feel to it too.
Track2 is awesome, nice transition, I really dig this cool, mellow sound! NB fits in nicely, this always reminds me of driving in a convertible in Maui on the Kaanapali Coast - best way to listen to Norman Brown.
The Chris Botti track is much better than I remembered, I will have to revisit the Jill Scott Collaborations album. Although I still like the Botti instrumental intro, that is more smooth jazz versus the Jill Scott vocal part is swinging 20s jazz which is good but very different genre. That sound was in the focus on Collaboration (eg. with God Bless The Child) hence I did not like it that much - I dig the raw RnB street soul from Jill much better.
The bassline here reminds me of two songs - the great Erykah Badu fellow diva's "On and On" and of course it's very similar to Mary Jane Girl's "All Night Long" bassline.
The highlight and the BOMB here for me is the JazzMasters track (5)! Now I said I don't know JazzMasters that much - vaguely I had some association with Paul Hardcastle, so I looked it up now: looks like it's not a band, it's actually Paul Hardcastle himself with his album series titled "Jazzmasters" that is up to Vol. 6 now. I need to revisit them again, I found it too synthetic when I listened to Vol 1 and 2 back then but either my taste has changed or it was getting better arrangements (this one is on Volume 4). I probably appreciate the electro-funk sound much better now that it's considered retro.
This track (5) is really a "Summer Madness" cover for me, very similar vibes at the beginning and all the way through - my all time fav. On that note: Kool and The Gand will perform here down under in February with a 12 piece band (!) - I'm definitely going... As a "side act" Mr. Roy Ayers will do the warm-up with a 6 piece band, hehe... What an awesome lineup. I've seen Ayers before here in Sydney, he picked young talented musicians who feel the funk and played a really tight, funky set. Hope Kool will be the same, I've seen some disappointing performances on DVD just like with EW&F (House Of Blues gigs).
The Calloway track was like "Sexual Healing", as a Marvin Gaye fan you probably also picked that.
Streetwise was a big surpise for me, first I though it was the Chuck Loeb track and noted how similar Chuck's guitar is to Norman Brown - well, I looked it up, it's Ken Navarro on the guitar, need to check out more from him. Apparently Streetwize even played with my fav Maysa Leak and the did a smooth jazz cover of the D'Angelo track I mentioned above, "Brown Sugar"
Pieaces Of A Deam somehow reminded me of "Snowblower" from Baker Chocolate Inc, I know you like that too, great jazzfunk classic, this is much slower and it's only the solo at the end that is similar to how "Snowblower" ends...
Chuck Loeb is very much underrrated, had to realize it again. Excellent vibe.
Still don't know how I know Walter Beasley and what song I was looking for from him - is this one Benson originally? I heard it before - great piano solo, again, I need to check out more of his stuff, he has quite a few albums.
Now this was a nice New Year's surprise, a carefully selected set that is a perfect demonstration of what real smooth jazz is all about - definitely reminded me why I love this genre and realized that I should listen to it more!
Thank you for sharing!