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BWB: Groovin’

Combine smooth-jazz stalwarts Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown, call the CD Groovin’ and picture a woman in apparent ecstasy on the cover and you might think you’re in for a fairly run-of-the-mill NAC experience. But there’s something deeper going on. Although the setting is modern, the influences are late-’60s and early-’70s soul-jazz plucked from the CTI catalog, and the crack trio of keyboardist Ricky Peterson, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Gregory Hutchinson keeps the music honest.

As you’d expect, each artist gets his time in the spotlight. The three leaders have good chemistry together, and the CD’s vibe is fun and carefree throughout the 10 cover songs picked by producer and BWB creator Matt Pierson, Warner Bros.’ executive VP of jazz. Several tunes can be lifted for your next party mix: Start with the title track, a brassy homage to the Rascals’ biggest hit, and skip to “Hip Hug Her,” where Whalum flexes his throaty sound on the Booker T & the MG’s classic. Definitely include Curtis Mayfield’s “Let’s Do It Again”-hearing Brown scat in tune with his guitar with vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater is a soul-jazz epiphany.

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