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Jazz - Released June 25, 2021 | Stones Throw

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In the late '70s keyboardist Bob James did a series of instrumental albums that immediately divided listeners and critics. Some were swayed by the music's light and funky tone while others savaged it for being formulaic and insipid. One thing James detractors were sure of: this lightweight fluff would never influence anybody. It's funny how often musical certainties prove false and here Los Angeles pianist/composer John Carroll Kirby, who has worked in the heady company of pop stars Solange, Frank Ocean and Harry Styles, leans heavily on that once derided aesthetic along with six fellow players who also find inspiration in discovering an easy listening groove and enriching it. Kirby's a believer in animism—the idea that all things, inanimate or alive, possess a soul—and "P64 By My Side," which celebrates the late California mountain lion famed for its skill in repeatedly crossing freeways, is pure James (and Hubert Laws), with the flutes of woodwind players Tracy Wannomae and Logan Horne rhythmically repeating an easygoing chord pattern before sliding off into solos that are complemented by Nick Mancini's vibraphone solo. Septet may come to be known as Kirby's "flute album." He opens "Swallow Tail" with round tones of an electric keyboard before switching to a note bending effect as flutes again become his main instrumental foil. Ostensibly written for the bandleader/ jazz drummer, "The Quest of Chico Hamilton" is more of a set piece for vibes soloing than any display of drumming pyrotechnics and Kirby goes all sprightly and twinkling on a Fender Rhodes in "Jubilee Horns" filling the solo space with flutes and marimba. Likely recorded as group jams with everyone playing live at once, the sound here is deceptively deep and rich and so incredibly listenable that it's eternally in danger of fading into background music as the funky line between smooth jazz and Muzak is tread. With similarly laid back Japanese city pop having just won new respect and fresh reissues, perhaps it is time for this variety of jazz pop to undergo a similar reassessment? © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Electronic - Released April 24, 2020 | Stones Throw

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Film Soundtracks - Released April 2, 2020 | Stones Throw

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New Age - Released October 28, 2019 | Patience

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House - Released October 27, 2017 | Record Makers

Electronic - Released September 22, 2018 | Leaving Records

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Film Soundtracks - Released August 13, 2021 | Stones Throw

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Jazz - Released May 24, 2021 | Stones Throw

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R&B - Released October 28, 2020 | Stones Throw

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Jazz - Released February 3, 2021 | Stones Throw

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Electronic - Released January 21, 2020 | Stones Throw

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Film Soundtracks - Released July 29, 2021 | Stones Throw

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Film Soundtracks - Released July 13, 2021 | Stones Throw

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Electronic - Released February 19, 2020 | Stones Throw

Electronic - Released August 14, 2019 | Stones Throw Records

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Experimental - Released November 30, 2020 | Mexican Summer

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Electronic - Released April 16, 2020 | Stones Throw