This year, Rendezvous Entertainment, the popular indie label founded by sax superstar Dave Koz and industry vets Hyman Katz and Frank Cody, released two wonderful compilation discs, Smooth Ones and Late Night Rendezvous, to celebrate two exciting events: its five year anniversary and, perhaps more importantly, its success as the label with the number one market share in smooth jazz radio. Beyond that, the label has really been a primary trendsetter in introducing American smoothie audiences to the incredibly cool and progressive chill sounds coming out of Europe. For a time, CD 101 in New York (WQCD) called itself New York Chill and this year, Mindi Abair took over for Chris Botti as host of a popular syndicated chill show that focuses on artists we really should be hearing more of. While Rendezvous’ roster only boasts a handful of them (Praful, Camiel, Adani & Wolf), the label’s chill catalog is a great place for the curious listener to start.
While Smooth Ones focuses on chart-topping hits by Rendezvous artists and other genre stars, Late Night Rendezvous is dedicated to a batch of ten completely magical “under the radar” tracks from the company’s diverse roster of smooth jazz and chill artists. The best way to describe it is a collection “deep cuts” that go beyond the catchy sort of fare that usually reaches #1 and is played over and over on the radio.
The coolest thing about this ten song sampler—whose vibe is definitely sexy, romantic and candlelit, as per its title—is showing how smooth jazz and chill sometimes intersect.
Marc Antoine’s sultry and hypnotic “Gotham” and Praful’s mystical “We Live On” are brilliant examples. Most of the tracks, however, are more specifically jazz or chill, ranging from Camiel’s soothing and ambient “You Can Stay” to the vocal on Kyle Eastwood's pop-jazz driven “Leave It” and Wayman Tisdale's thoughtful and romantic “Shape of Your Heart.” For those who think Tisdale can only play hot funk cover tunes, this song may surprise you! Kirk Whalum’s silky, low key “Betcha Never” (from his incredible The Babyface Songbook album) and Brian Simpson’s elegant waiting key us in on the gentler side of smooth jazz; we might never hear these songs live because artists generally try to make their shows a party. So it’s great to hear them here!
Other great artists included on this perfect late night soundtrack are Michael Lington (how perfect a title is “Call Me Late Tonight” to fit the theme of this collection?), the Philippe Saisse Trio (a moody reading of the jazz standard “Body and Soul”) and—last but not least--the masterful chill producers Adani & Wolf. Rendezvous first introduced this duo as the producers of Praful’s One Day Deep and his megahit “Sigh,” then released their full length self titled solo disc, which includes amazing grooves, beats, melodies and soundscapes. Their song “Mist Of Dreams,” featuring rolling beats, echoing voices and atmospheres and a cool steel guitar line, is the perfect closer to this collection.
For fans who want to understand the cool connections between smooth jazz and chill in the early and mid 2000s, this disc is the ultimate primer. The ideal Rendezvous listening experience is to put on Smooth Ones during the day and then relaxing at night to Late Night Rendezvous. Hopefully we’ll see more collections from the label soon!