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World Music CD Reviews Jazz


By Justin Hopper
Published June 22, 2007

Bees + Things + Flowers
Narada Jazz

Just below the mainstream of neo-soul, soulful house, and pulsating “urban” adult contemporary music thrives the twilight world of modern acid jazz. This is the world ruled by Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick, the producer behind the smooth-jazz-funk institution collectively referred to as Incognito. For 11 albums, Incognito has made music hovering between gorgeous neo-soul and infuriatingly pretentious, achingly boring smooth pulp-jazz. On Bees + Things + Flowers, Bluey proves the dichotomy of Incognito once again. Ostensibly a tribute to summertime, Bees seems more like a tribute to Incognito, with extra-breezy versions of their own classics (“Always There”) and those of acid-jazz heroes (Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves The Sunshine”). It’s half remarkable, like the frantic yet relaxing drum breaks on “Raise” or the acoustic soul of “Deep Waters.” But that means it’s half obnoxious: if Carleen Anderson’s range-hopping lead vocal on “Summer In The City” was self-parody, it’d be brilliant. It’s not.