Thursday, September 11, 2008

Verve Jazz Club offers more than jazz

More than jazzSep 11, 2008 ... are Latin Jazz, Jazz Samba, Smooth Running, Bossa Nova Singers, and Smoky Jazz, ... Browse ( to sample the music. ...

Thursday September 11, 2008
Verve Jazz Club offers more than jazz

Most serious jazzheads would think nothing of hours spent crate-digging at flea markets and scouring dusty record store bins. Risking hunched shoulders and sore backs in the quest for rare grooves and obscure jazz on vinyl (or CD) is a big part of the music-collecting experience. But what about casual fans who don’t want to incur huge medical bills and bad posture just to build up a decent jazz library at home?

There has to be an easier way to source for the good, funky stuff other than succumbing to illegal downloads (which isn’t too cool). It’s time the jazz genre and its related offshoots got an extensive budget CD series. Enter the Verve Jazz Club, which is a keeper of a campaign with over 70 titles traversing the highways and byways of the label’s vast catalogue.

This series, neatly organised in thematic titles, features a sublime mix of jazz, soul, Latin, funk, psychedelia, remixes and electro-jazz – pulled from a variety of Universal-owned labels of the 1960s/70s right to contemporary material lifted from the vaults of Talkin’ Loud, Jazzland, Emarcy, Compost and others.

The budget-price attached to this series (RM23.90) backs the campaign’s tagline: “Verve’s inexpensive CD series” and these releases would make notable additions on the jazz racks nationwide.

As with other jazz sets compiled abroad, there’s a diverse, well-informed groove to the material, one that goes beyond hotel lounge posturing or romantic jazz schmaltz to unleash a batch of eye-catching compilations.

This big helping of vintage jazz grooves from the Verve roster and beyond is every bit as essential, especially with equal emphasis given to obscure names and tracks from the era.

Divided into six colour codes (subtitled: trends, moods, world, etc) these compilations, basically, present an overview of the jazz names that really mattered with the larger jazz masses in the early part of the 50s and 60s (Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker, etc) — and through the later years of jazz’s evolution, most of the funkier material that has registered cult fame in the global groove underground.

The jazz legends are well represented, but what gives this series an added hipster advantage are the specialist titles that trawl through the Hammond scene, the roots of the Mod circuit, Lalo Schifrin’s soundtrack work, the cosmic soul jazz hybrid, kitschy 60s grooves and a fair amount of classic beats and breaks that built the foundation for hip hop.

You don’t need to be a Gilles Peterson, Ahmir ‘?uestlove’ Thompson or DJ Shazz (Zouk KL) to dig this groovy scene. The pick of the crop, if you prefer a club-orientated jazz sound, would be the Electric Bossa and Electric Jazz Lounge compilations working the right moves with 4Hero, UFO, Incognito, Terry Callier, Courtney Pine, De-Phazz right to remixes of Astrud Gilberto, Willie Bobo and Nina Simone classics.

Hip hop heads can look up the excellent Sampled! compilation, filled with a righteous batch of tracks that cut a fine job of mixing sample classics that helped build tracks for Mos Def, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Common, Massive Attack, Common and more.

The stormin’ Psychedelic Jazz compilation, destined to attract the more adventurous jazz fan, isn’t too bad either. No Sun-Ra in the picture, but that’s not a problem. This Nuggets-inspired compilation packs jazz from the outer limits circa late 60s. This is the sort of mixtape that someone like freak folk star Devendra Banhart would have on his iPod, with names like Roy Ayers, Pierre Henry, Volker Kriegel, Dorothy Ashby vibing it (with loads of sitar, kalimba, flutes and trippy organ sounds) in this pot of jazz-gone-bizzare.

Other noteworthy titles, meant for the more conventional Diana Krall-listening masses, are Latin Jazz, Jazz Samba, Smooth Running, Bossa Nova Singers, and Smoky Jazz, all titles with immense crowd-pleasing potential and a nice price to each package.

These Verve Jazz Club compilations, regularly updated with monthly new titles, are available now at Rock Corner, Speedy Video and CD Rama outlets nationwide. Browse ( to sample the music.

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