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Clive Stevens: Millennium Jams

English windsmith/producer/arranger Clive Stevens directs a complex, often cinematic mix of traditional jazz, world music and pop elements on Millennium Jams (Electric Planet/MetaLimbo EFA 06354; 52:19). I say cinematic because each instrument and unique voice is placed as a component for an overall visceral effect: whether it’s waves of sweeping keyboard and smooth tenor sax, accented by children’s voices for an effect that’s pure, blissful relaxation (“Boulevards of Paradise”), or soft-spoken flute and slow, deliberate bass guiding a journey of the heart and mind (“Where Do We Go Now?”). “Three Steps from Heaven” likewise conveys complex emotion through Yadam Gonzalez’s pristine piano and Stevens’ diving, singing tenor sax. All of this is accomplished without sacrificing accessibility-although cuts like “Nastassja” and “Dance From the Magic Kingdom” present adventurous, challenging arrangements, for example, the hooks within are irresistible. If others follow Stevens’ lead in breaking down genre barriers, it will be a promising musical millennium indeed.

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