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Various Artists

Homecooking - Soulfood Served by Jazzanova and Friends

(Sonar Kollectiv; US: 27 Nov 2006; UK: 20 Nov 2006)

Alex Barck, one sixth of German downbeat collective Jazzanova, says that most of the musicians he knows are also good cooks. Operating on the theory that jazz and cooking aren’t so different—each depends on just the right selection of ingredients, and improvisation plays an important role in both the studio and the kitchen—Barck conceived Home Cooking: a sumptuously photographed cookbook collecting recipes from musicians associated with “the Jazzanova scene”, accompanied by a CD of downtempo material by artists from the Sonar Kollective label. I can’t review the recipes (sadly, my press kit included only the CD), but Barck has put together an excellent overview of the Sonar Kollectiv roster. This release stands out in a sea of bland downtempo compilations for a number of reasons. First of all, the musicians can actually play, a fact that shines through even the most layered, artful production flourishes. Also, many of the tracks—like Deyampert’s “Held Him First”—are more overtly jazz-oriented than a lot of the Ibiza-oriented comps floating around, echoing bands like Koop more than the studio creations you might find on the latest volume of Ultra Chill. Other standout tracks include the laidback, funky “Just Paradise” by Clara Hill, the Radio Citizen Mix of “Nomad” by Micatone, and the sublime groove of Leon Ware’s “Nights in Brazil”.

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