You remember those old Reese’s peanut butter cup commercials from the 1970s? Ok, I’m sure some of you do. One person would be eating a chocolate bar and he would bump into a guy scooping out peanut butter from a jar (why somebody was strolling down the street eating peanut butter out of a jar was left unexplained). The guy with the chocolate bar would exclaim, “hey, you got peanut butter on my chocolate.” The peanut butter man would respond, “you got chocolate on my peanut butter.” Then, they’d give it a taste and realize that the concoction was pretty good.
Ideally, that’s the reaction that listener should have after listening to a well thought out compilation album.
From my standpoint, a compilation album should be a project where the whole equals – or perhaps even exceeds -- the sum of the individual parts. Compilation albums make statements. They tell a story. Compilation albums exist to showcase a musical genre, an individual performer or collection of artists. A theme that runs through these works ties the tunes together even if it appears that the tracks on the album have nothing in common.
The album The Hurst Selection 1, released by soulandjazz.com, is a compilation album that has a distinct musical point of view. That point of view becomes clear by taking a close look at the name of the outfit releasing the record – soulandjazz.com. The theme that courses through The Hurst Selection 1 is that although jazz and soul/R&B are two distinct genres, both have the same starting point, and those connection points allow both styles to mesh seamlessly. Take the remix of Avery*Sunshine’s “I Got Sunshine.” The track that appears on her very good self-titled album is an ode to 1960s and early 1970s era Motown, right down to the James Jamerson-inspired bass line. The remix introduces a Caribbean infused rhythm and features the vocalist trading with some Harmon muted horns as she sings the hook. The instrumentation and the improvisation give “I Got Sunshine” a New Orleans feel.
The funky “So Claudia” showcases some inspired playing by flautist Claudia Hayden and keyboard creativity that might remind some of 1970s icons such as Bob James. Meanwhile, the melodies on the ballads “In Your Eyes” by William Green and “Feels Like Love” by Kabanya-Chemise provide space for musicians to insert jazzy piano flourishes. The Hurst Selection 1 features several numbers that sport a very high jazz quotient. Most notable is “Hope,” final tune on the collection. Milton Suggs’ impassioned singing and some excellent interplay among the saxophone, trumpet and electric bass propel the song.
That last song pretty much sums up The Hurst Selection 1’s, many virtues. The song features a powerful vocalist belting out inspirational lyrics in the finest tradition of soul music sharing the spotlight with top-flight musical creators. A true fusion. Recommended
By Howard Dukes