Tribes of Da Underground 6 [Audio CD] Various Artists

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This impressive compilation is a cornucopia of great rhythms, lovely arrangements, and inspired vocal workouts. It's sophisticated stuff, but it couldn't possibly be mistaken for one of those dull dance discs that strain for jazzy musicality; this slice of suavity grooves very hard indeed. Homecookin's "Lazy Days" has an upbeat vibe that's exuberant rather than clichéd. Similarly, the elegance of Underwolves' "Bird Song" expresses potent romanticism, not sugary sentiment. Agile vocals glide over stuttering, supercatchy rhythms on Pavel Kostiuk's "Brand New Day." The Leroy Smith remix of Ne-grove's "Let It Ride" layers funky, itchy percussion, bluesy flute runs, and a warm vocal hum to create a delightfully rich sound. 4 Hero's mix of Ultra Nate's "Twisted" rides a tumbling jazz drum pattern; the track is a masterpiece of contemporary R&B. Michael Rutten of Soul Patrol compiled Soul Searching, so naturally his group makes a contribution; the band's instrumental, "Love Variations Pt. 1," features water-drip electric piano, a prog rock-like groove, and hovering, mournful strings. It's just one more excellent track on this fine disc. --Fred Cisterna