Various Artists (Blue Note)
Album of the week
With Motown saluting Sinatra, Nashville saluting Tammy Wynette, and everybody this side of Janet Reno saluting Gershwin, there has been a bumper crop of tribute CDs this year, and this ranks as one of the most enjoyable. Even the jazz artists, most from the Blue Note label, seemed to enjoy being turned loose on Motown’s past pop hits. There are a few miscalculations, though. Saxman Dave Koz’s vacuous reading of the Jackson Five’s “I’ll Be There” borders on Kenny G territory, and there are only three fairly obscure tunes by Motown’s best writer, Stevie Wonder. Also, only one Blue Note artist appears per track. It just might have been fun to hear someone like jazz organist John Patton sit in with vocalist Dianne Reeves (“Tracks of My Tears”). Still, this is a worthy tribute that fans of both Motown and modern jazz can enjoy.
Bottom Line: Old songs get a successful makeover