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Soul Express CD Review

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The Soul of Smooth Jazz
UK Expansion 2-CD, 2008

Disc: 1
1) Noel Elmowy - Cinqueterre
2) Ian Martin - Family
3) Citrus Sun - Where The Wind Blows
4) Althea Rene - I Can
5) Act of Faith - If You Believe (Remix)
6) Maysa Leak - Shadows And The Light
7) Diplomats Of Soul - From Here On
8) Kloud 9 - Lullaby For K.C.
9) Byron Woods - Fly Away
10) Jiva - Love Chooses Lovers
11) Noel Elmowy - El Bobo
12) Brigette - Aqua De Beber
13) Ian Martin - Tell Me If You Still Care
14) Preston Glass feat. Dave Koz - Calming The Beast
15) Nicolas Bearde - Wild Is The Wind

Disc: 2
1) Citrus Sun - Tanya's Song
2) Adriana Evans - Blue Bird In Bahia
3) Gwendolyn Joy - Let's Get Real
4) Kloud 9 - Keep Me Coming Around
5) Jabari Grover - I Can't Help It
6) Modern Tribe - Kissing You
7) Charles & Gwen Scales - Tell Me If You Want Me
8) Victor Haynes - First Time
9) Frank McComb - Mr. Integrity
10) Inner Shade - What's In The Box
11) Preston Glass feat Brian Culbertson - Save The Stress For Last
12) Frank McComb - Satan's Jam
13) Inner Shade - Loose Cannon
14) Kloud 9 feat. Kirk Whalum - Personal
15) Michael Fair - Chill Funk

The leading UK soul label Expansion has released this double disc of jazzy soul – or soulful jazz – that contains 30 full-length tracks at the price of a single CD. The tracks are all familiar from various Expansions releases of this decade, mainly from soul albums, from which the instrumentals or semi-instrumentals have been picked here, but also a couple of vocal tracks.

It is a well-known fact that smooth jazz albums typically contain 1-2 vocal tracks, which are often classy jazz-flavoured soul tracks. I'd love to have a double disc compilation of those tracks as well, but this release rather represents the jazz-inclined cuts on soul albums and not vice versa. Nothing wrong with that of course, either, although not many cuts here are the prime tracks of the original albums. The artists featured have all been introduced on our reviews at Soul Express, just have a search from our Search page to find the reviews of many of the original CDs.

My personal favourites amongst the 30 tracks are the vocal tracks, like the glorious trumpet-laced I Can't Help It by Jabari Grover, the warm bossa soul readings by Nicolas Bearde and Brigette, or the typically sophisticated yet soulful Kloud 9 tune Personal, coloured by Kirk Whalum's saxophone. Adriana Evans' Blue Bird in Bahia adds some more Brazilian spice to the set.

The albums that were also originally more instrumental than vocal sets include CDs by Inner Shade, Citrus Sun, Noel Elmowy and Jiva, but it seems that the peaks of those albums have not been picked to this double set. Still, the package makes a pleasant overall listening, and is certainly a good value for money. This album serves as a good foretaste what to expect from the original CDs.
- Ismo Tenkanen

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