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Classified by Minority Report

Here’s a rather refreshing, easy listening jazz project offered up by an impressive trio, which includes New York keyboardist, Billy Mitchell, bassist (and drum programmer) Masanori Iji of Tokyo, and L.A. native recording engineer/trombonist, Tom Manasian.

When you listen to Minority Report, you think: Soft, steady, beautiful, comfortable, and occasionally funky. The CD features lots of mellow, moderately paced material with dreamy strings (remember Barry White’s "Love Unlimited" orchestra?) as a backdrop. Track 1, "Coast Highway’" is a good indication of the group’s musical direction. It's easy to envision a long, slow, lazy drive along that highway.

To spice it up a bit, the group tosses in some subtle yet distinct funk in track 2, "Koto Madness." Not surprisingly, the koto, the Japanese stringed instrument of Hiroshima fame, plays a central part in this tune, as it does elsewhere on this CD. Track 4, "On the Edge" rolls in with a lighter dose of funk. Track 7 "Mile High" -- my favorite -- takes the lion's share of funk. Iji demonstrates his competence as a funkster by providing a steady and impressive bass line on this cut. In the mood for some late-night murmurings over dinner and candlelight with your love bunny? Track 6, "Two Worlds," features Mitchell’s romantic tickling of the ivories and should certainly place the two of you in the same intimate world. There is an ethereal ambience all around and through track 8, "Three of Four." Mitchell's stylish command of the piano in combination with the koto/strings arrangement make this another of my favorites on this CD.

The group moves on to capture your attention in track 9, "Those Memories," with a very catchy and melodic piano contribution and steady backbeat. The last piece, "Lone Trombone," features no surprises here--Manasian’s trombone in a lazy and smooth jazzy setting.

Classified is, in many ways, probably more reminiscent of the backdrop music of an early James Bond romance scene than representative of the R&B/funk-rooted smooth jazz I have come to know and embrace. Nonetheless, it is a very pleasant collection of well-conceived compositions for the romantic in all of us.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Minority Report
  • CD Title: Classified
  • Genre: Cool Jazz
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Vista Records
  • Tracks: Coast Highway, Koto Madness, The Longest Kiss, On the Edge, Slow and Easy, Two Worlds, Mile High, Three of Four, Those Memories, Lone Trombone
  • Musicians: Billy Mitchell (keys, synthesizers, and percussion), Masanori Iji (electric bass and drum programs), Tom Manasian (trombone & recording engineer)
  • Rating: Two Stars
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