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GLP Jazz by Various Artists

As our interconnected world continues to shrink, so does the concept of "regionalized" styles of jazz. This sampler from the British label GLP stands as proof, as the sounds and musicianship here compare well with the best jazz from the USA or, indeed, elsewhere. If there's one defining factor to this musical smorgasbord, it's tastefulness. Nothing here will shock or offend the listener, nor will anything new or innovative grace the ear. It's solid jazz throughout, in a variety of flavors. GLP has also chosen to spotlight original compositions for the whole CD.

The Jamil Sheriff Octet, with multiple horns fronting a four-man rhythm section, swing confidently on their two selections. Steve Parry's Big Band from Hell combines the groove of Basie with the brash brass sound of early Maynard Ferguson on the sassy "Big Mama" and a more contemporary "It All Starts Here." Oh, and Parry just happens to play every instrument on the tracks as well.

The quintet Centre Line, a collective co-led by drummer Darren Altman, provide this set's comic relief with "The Pop Soul Jazz Funk Love Shuffle," moving through all those musical genres (with a dose of blues added) in eight minutes. The group's ruminative "Song for Gerry" provides a pleasant contrast, as all the members save the drummer get solo space. Centre Line's saxophonist Russell van den Berg takes the spotlight himself on two originals. His creamy horn blends with vibes on the mid-tempo pieces.

For another dose of the big band sound we turn to drummer Tony Faulkner and his Jazz Orchestra. Tight horn arrangements and a broad tonal palette are the defining factors here, and Faulkner wears his influence on his sleeve with the piece "Duke Ellington." Pianist Wayne Pollock, the odd man out with only one cut on this 11-song sampler, provides a fast-cooking "Mentality" as sax and trumpet share the lead. As with many sampler discs, the lack of musician credits dampens the listening experience a bit (except in the case of Parry who obviously doesn't need credits!). But interesting originals and arrangements, and crisp production throughout, make the GLP label one to watch as they introduce their roster to American ears.

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