It’s unusual for a compilation album to be successful. For the most part, the short glimpses of each artist presented allow only a disappointingly cursory look at their work, and even conceptually driven collections often fail to maintain consistent quality from song to song. However, none of this applies to Jazz Sexy.
Culled from the Chesky Records catalog, each of the album’s 12 selections are of consistently high quality and are well-fitted to the album’s theme of romance and seduction. Offering a range of vocal and instrumental music, producer David Chesky has carefully selected tunes that not only contain romantic themes, but sound , well, sexy. There’s no other word for it. Jon Faddis’ trumpet murmurs an insistent plea on an elegantly simplified rendition of “Naima,” Kenny Rankin’s vocal cuts straight to the plaintive center of the Monk classic “’Round Midnight,” and even the hi-hat sounds erotic on the coyly constructed “Baby Talk” by Dave’s True Story.
Warmly sedate, veritably dripping with honey tones, yet never overly sentimental, the selections collected here contain a number of stand-out pieces. Beyond those already mentioned, the Fred Hersch Trio’s contribution, “I Fall in Love Too Easily” and Chuck Mangione’s “La Vie En Rose” deserve particular note, as well as the vocal bass duet “Insensatez” performed by Rosa Passos and Ron Carter. This last piece may be the most enchanting item on the disc. Supported by Carter’s gently penetrating bass, Passos delivers a poignant interpretation of Jobim’s pathos-driven composition, her slightly breathless voice melting effortlessly into the sensual contours of the piece.
While perhaps not the album for purists, Jazz Sexy works just fine as a starter for the inquisitive.
The world of jazz is a musical space with a complex history and haunting appeal--a space to revisit and celebrate. It’s that
amazing moment when you hear a really great song you haven't heard in years and you still know the tune and every word.