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Various Artists - Jazz Sexy Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 October 2003

Various Artists

Jazz Sexy
format: Stereo Hybrid SACD
label: Chesky Records
release year: 2003
performance: 8
sound 8
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

Image Despite the striking photo of a woman disrobing on its cover, Jazz Sexy is not at all an album of the most-sexy examples of jazz music known to mankind. Instead, it is a selected sampling from Chesky Records. But even though it’s not steamy enough to be kept behind the counter at your local record shop, it’s nevertheless a fine CD, filled with enjoyable straight jazz.

And although it’s not truly sexy – in a modern erotic way -- this music is still sexy in an old school jazz sort of manner, since so many of these tracks comprise established standards. Notable examples include Eddie Daniels’ performance of “The Man I Love,” Christy Baron’s nod to Duke Ellington on “Body and Soul,” the back look to Thelonious Monk of vocalist Kenny Rankin’s “’Round Midnight” and “La Vie En Rose,” performed here by Chuck Mangione, which is most closely associated with Edith Piaf. While many of these songs would have been considered the pop songs of their day, “Naima,” performed by trumpeter Jon Faddis, is the CD’s most out-of-place track, since it takes on one of John Coltrane’s distinctively meditative instrumental ballads.

The spectrum of artists included on this CD is wide-ranging, to say the least. It’s unlikely, for instance, that you’ll come across another CD with both feverish vocalist Peggy Lee and ‘70s flugelhorn pop star Mangione on the very same release. Its variety ranges from the South American sway of “Insensatez” by singer Rosa Passos and bass maestro Ron Carter to the jazzy guitar swing of John Pizzarelli’s “The Touch Of Your Lips,” which dates back to his 1990 My Blue Heaven album. There’s also a track by the group Oregon, which is not a group mentioned even in jazz circles all that often these days. Its inclusion on the album, by the way, is an almost classical guitar driven piece called “Green And Golden,” which is beautiful in its aural simplicity.

The album is almost evenly divided between instrumental-only tracks and selections with vocals. Maybe the album’s sexy selling point is associated with the quiet bedroom quality of vocal inclusions like Christy Baron’s come-hither cooing of “Body And Soul.” It may swing a little lightly in places, but it never swings from the rafters, if you know what I mean.

The breadth of this overview says a whole lot of praiseworthy things about the eclectic (and also fine) taste of David and Norman Chesky. It’s an album that paints Chesky (the label) as a risk-taking jazz label, which puts out music it loves, rather than merely catering to what the marketplace demands. Daring musical ventures may not always be readily associated with eroticism, but “Jazz Sexy” might help rekindle one’s love affair with jazz music. That’s one affair that will last longer than any kind of a physical one-night-stand.

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