Various_jazztoys_span3
May 2006

Various Artists
Jazz.Toys
Perfect Toy

Rare-groove collectors are an odd sort. They’ll pay something like $500 to buy an obscure record by a long-forgotten band just to sample a single breakbeat or to drop a lost song into a DJ mix. Marcus Hacker of the German label Perfect Toy is just such a crate digger. He’s a man who would likely trade a week’s pay in order to find a string-and-flute laden record with booty-rattling bass and a trap-kit smackdown—and he very likely did that to find the 14 ’60s, ’70s and ’80s easy-listening Euro obscurities that make up Jazz.Toys.

The Finnish Heikki Sarmanto Big Band’s “The Pawn” features a lead flute, but it also bounces to the beat of two drummers, a fuzzy electric piano and an operatic vocalist. Grupo Veneno’s “Guarana-Guaranar” is butt-shakin’ Brazilian wackiness as released by a German label, and the Earthquakes’ “Soul Samba” is result of a French company’s attempt to capitalize on Europe’s endless craving for Latinized grooves. Heinz Kiessling was a German soundtrack composer, and his “Drift” is a funked-up chase-scene song.

These sorts of comps are usually covers heavy, but there are only two here: Wendy and the Nolan Ranger Orchestra do a spy-music version of “Fever,” and the Kaatee Frits Quartet produces a wonderfully Teutonic take on Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon.”

Are any of the tracks worth $500? Hell, no, but if you’re looking for kitschy, good-time party music, Jazz.Toys might be worth $16.98.

Originally published in May 2006
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