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Picks by Sullivan Bianco (SB).

Smooth Grooves: Jazzy Soul, Vols. 1-3
Rhino

"Just when you thought it was safe to wipe ..." The Butthole Surfers dictum well suits this three-disc slog through "please continue holding" music. Who sold the soul? Well, according to these notes, KJLH passed the "quiet storm" format in 1972 and it's continued to dangle from KUTE to our own inane KOIT. At the risk of sounding un-egalitarian (and stamping the right to feed ears mush), Jazzy Soul's three discs are extended and expensive demonstration albums, primers on how to squander and cool the sexual energy of Minnie Ripperton, Bill Withers, the Ohio Players and even (gulp!) Herb Alpert through idiomatic fusing a.k.a. "fusion"--they all sound like Toto, and even Toto can't benefit from the comparison. These are "jazz" smoothies! (SB)


Turner Bros.
Act 1
Luv N' Haight

The obvious antidote to the toothless Rhino series is this unbelievable compilation of the relatively unknown Turner Brothers Show Band. Remembered chiefly as an opening act for everyone from Otis Redding to the Chi-Lites, they give off a soul corona all their own. They didn't just bring their own groove to this CD, they brought a whole different weather pattern--as the first track, "Running in the Rain," attests. Exactly five seconds of pure crackling tape noise, a moment of Sun-Ra-ey freedom and the album soars into the astral funk plane. "Cause I Love You" is Funkadelic scrambling up (and jamming with) the innocence of the Jackson 5, and "The Sound of Taurus" is a concept-moog-ie-boogie-tone-poetic tune that still can't quit, 30 years later. (SB)


Sons and Daughters of Lite
Let the Sun Shine In
Luv N' Haight

Featuring album art commemorating their association with the Black Panthers, the SDL are basically a sizzling, radical (formally) local jazz band from the 1970s. Luv N' Haight, a sub-label of Ubiquity Records, gives props none too late. The title tune is unrecognizable from its Hair-y origin--thank God. This is by far the most intelligent cover version, ungummed by the co-opted hippiness, and there's more than a hint of a world beat in a lot of this volcanic funk album. Vocals are more used as rhythmic punctuation, the theory being that the mating of samba inflections and afro-logical group playing can enrich soul immensely. And if you like that theory, then check out the bad-ass practice. (SB)


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From the February 7, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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