Various Artists: Klubbjazz 5

John Bergstrom

Various Artists

Klubbjazz 5

Label: Slip'n'Slide
US Release Date: Available as import
UK Release Date: 2004-03-29

Dance compilations with the word "Jazz" in the title are always dubious propositions. One is never sure whether they're going to get something that's lean and groovy or loaded up with easy-listening cheese; with this stuff, there's scant stylistic difference between dancefloor and furniture showroom floor. Thankfully, this fifth installment in Slip'n'Slide's Klubbjazz series falls into the former category, and even distinguishes itself within it.

The 12 tracks here, continuously mixed by the Aloha Pussycats and Lewis Dene, go down like a margarita on a lazy, sun drenched summer's day. That's not so say that they're disposable. The virtuoso guitar, keyboard and brass playing, smart melodies, and engaging percussion make the songs stimulating to body and mind. Throughout, Klubbjazz 5 is a stimulating blend of jazzy riffing, Latin-flavored percussion and solid house rhythms.

Markus Enochson's "Musical Prayer" starts things off on an appropriately cool note, with guest vocalist E-Man delivering his "prayer" ("I couldn't imagine a world without music...") on top of synth swirls and squiggles, an engaging electric bass line, and tasteful guitar soloing. By the third track, DJ Chus & David Penn's "Baila", the album's Latin influence begins to kick in, and it's a real treat. The rhythm chugs, vibes smooth things over, and Caterina's Spanish vocals entice. Negrocan's "Cada Vez" heats up the party with rapturous percussion, wah-wah guitar and a slinky groove.

From there, things don't really cool down until Ursula Rucker and Louie Vega's "Release". This track should be a highlight of sorts, with both contributors underground sensations in their own right. Rucker's coolly-delivered, politically-charged spoken word poetry has made appearances on work by a number of progressive dance and hip-hop acts; she's probably best known for her work with the Roots. Vega is a Latin-house superstar in his own right, having spent well over a decade as part of the famed Masters at Work production/mixing crew. Their collaboration, though, is disappointing. Vega's minimal production is nice, with some tribal percussion, synth strings and acoustic guitar holding things down. The chorus, though, sounds too much like a Santana outtake. Rucker is always an acquired taste, and her vague post 9/ll lamenting is neither particularly biting or moving. Bummer.

The collection ends well, though, with Deep FM's psychedelic "Sax in Space" living up to its title. Klubbjazz 5 is impressively cohesive; like most effective mood mixes, it sounds as if it could just as well be an album created by a single artist. That mood is stretched over nearly 80 minutes, which is probably more than the casual listener will need. Still, everything here would sound out of place on an elevator, and that's a good thing.

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