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Album Review

England and the U.S. weren't the only countries that saw a rebirth of interest in soul-jazz in the 1990s; classic soul-jazz recordings of the '60s and '70s were also a hot item in Holland. One Dutch outfit that had a lot of fun with soul-jazz, acid jazz, and funk in the '90s was the New Cool Collective, whose third album, Big, was recorded in Amsterdam in 1998 and 1999 but was mindful of what was going on in the U.S. in the '60s and '70s. Except for the hip-hop techniques the big band sometimes employs, Big is very retro, and that is true whether the Collective is providing Latin-flavored soul-jazz instrumentals à la Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers or featuring various vocalists on retro-soul numbers. One of the most interesting tracks on the CD is a remake of the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun," which features Dutch singer Trijntje Oosterhuis and gets a surprising R&B makeover. Listening to Oosterhuis' soulful performance, you would never know that Dutch, not English, is her primary language; in fact, she sounds like she could be African-American. The Collective doesn't do a lot of covers; original material dominates Big.This is an album that isn't recommended to jazz purists but is rewarding if you hold jazz, R&B/funk, and Afro-Cuban music in equally high regard.

Big, New Cool Collective
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