Smooth Urban Jazz
Though he is the primary artist on this collective project, saxophonist, keyboardist and producer Kim Waters appears without above-the-title fanfare in Streetwize on Smooth Urban Jazz (Shanachie), featuring NAC arrangements of R&B and hip-hop chart-toppers. For the most part, the songs offered are as generic as the album's title, calling upon the cliches of the genre: breathy (not sexy), endlessly repeated background vocals on "Rock the Boat," which is, sadly, is not a cover of the '70s campy pop song, but a version of Aaliyah's hit, and cold, program heavy beats on Usher's "U Don't Have to Call." Though Moe Daniels adds a purring organ track to an otherwise remote take on Jay-Z's "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," and Ken Navarro applies his sweet-toned, jumping guitar work like a salve to the smushed-keyboard base of Koffee Brown's "After Party," it's too little, too late. A notable exception, and a real wake-up call here, is the retro-funk mood of Mystikal's "Shake It Fast," with a layered, rubberband energy that recalls Waters' better signature fare.