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The Holland Tunnel Project: A Smooth Blend of Jazz

Look beyond the album’s goofy, non-descript title (A Smooth Blend of Jazz, which conjures thoughts of synth-drenched Kenny G ballads), and you’ll go for a wild ride with The Holland Tunnel Project (IRMA States 496 5082; 59:01). The inventive duo of Harold Martin and Calvin “Troubb” Jones combines streetwise, edgy percussive textures and touches with elegant jazz on a series of vivid, evocative song-scenes. “Hell Up in Newark” is both sophisticated and raw, with a foundation of pounding, deep beat-box and bass rolling beneath light textured guitar and wailing tenor sax. Old soul meets contemporary rattle on “Park Mansion,” with horn ensemble waves playing off retro-organ in a crash of energy and verve. Another highlight, the dark dance-pulsing “Sea of Love” sets a ragged-edged rhythm against elegant, rolling acoustic piano for a unique emotional effect. Hope from chaos, and beauty through diversity are vivid themes portrayed throughout this smartly crafted set, which, although melodic and accessible, proves to be anything but an everyday “smooth jazz” outing.

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