With a “Loud Talker” sitting behind me making my ear drums bleed, surrounded by bitter, unhappy co-workers. One could either;

(a) try to give advise
(b) ask to be moved to another area on the floor…like the janitor’s closet
(c) go postal
(d) pop in your earbuds (or in my case, put on noise canceling headphones) and listen to some good music to get you through the day.

Since I love my freedom, I am married to a beautiful, intelligent queen and I love making money to buy wonderful things for my wife and myself and we enjoy traveling from time to time…I choose (d).

The albums I have chosen I may have posted tracks here and there on my blogs but when it comes to getting through the work week besides my netcasts I listen to everyday these smooth jams take me to another time and place while keeping me on point at work. It gets my creative juices flowing when posting to my blogs, when taking photographs or just lovin’ life to the fullest.

I hope these selections will help you as well while at work dealing with the criminal insane aka your co-workers.

7 Must Have Smooth Jazz CDs on your mp3 player

1. Steely DanTwo against Nature*
Gaslight Abbie
Jack of Speed
Almost Gothic
I wonder why Steely Dan has always been categorized as a rock band because they clearly sound like a jazz band to me. Listening to Fagen’s voice gives me peace, takes me to another time dimension while at the same time long for an earlier time in my life. While sitting behind the “Loud Talker” I’m able to tune her out completely because the arrangements of the bass line, the horn arrangements makes this a fun listen to get me through hours surrounded by unhappy, whining housewives complaining about their husbands, the latest on Desperate Housewives. Jack of Speed makes you close your eyes, enjoy the guitar playing of Walter Becker, the horn sections, the smooth sounds makes me wish I as on the open road with the car set on cruise control.

2. Special EFXBody Language*
Night Rhythm
Till We Meet Again
As my lovely wife calls this CD, “this is a driving to Chicago CD”. I found this little gem at a used CD store and is one of my all time albums. I have followed Chieli and the late George Jinda for many years. I was hooked on the duo when I heard “The Flow”From beginning to end, every song makes you smile, slump in your chair and just let enjoy what you are doing at work while everyone around you is suffering in their own little hell.

3. Paul TaylorSteppin’ Out*
On the Move
Steppin’ Out
Let’s Go Out Tonight
The sounds from Paul’s soprano sax will put you on Cloud 9. For me just hearing On the Move puts me in the mind dancing with my wife and enjoying her presence. This track alone you will play more than once just capture that feeling of “not being there”…there I mean, not at work.

4. Kim WatersSomeone To Love You*
You Know That I Love You
Someone To Love You
I should be ashamed of myself. As wrote in an earlier post this gem I have had on my external hard drive for about a year and never really listen to and that’s a shame. Thank you Jesus that my hard drive never died on me because if it ever did I would have lost this treasure. One thing I love about jazz is that most albums every track you enjoy, some more than others but you get your money’s worth and with this release from Kim Waters you will not be disappointed. I’m not going to lie, it was hard for me to choose which songs to mention so my advise to you, get the CD.

5. Artie TraumAcoustic Jazz Guitar*
Mysterious Stranger
Behind the Mask
Quiet Volcano
You may get tired of me mentioned this CD but I can’t help it. I love the blend of the Artie’s guitar playing with the keyboards/piano arrangements, the percussions. The blend of these musicians makes me smile each time I hear this album(check out Quiet Volcano and you will see why I boast on this CD)
I love the acoustic guitar and when it is played with such love, it captures my attention with a quickness. The very first CD I bought of Artie Traum was at a flee market and I was hooked on his finger picking style. Other players I could have put on this list(Will Ackerman, Alex de Grassi, Govi) but I do not want you to get “too” relaxed. Artie has a that “down home” playing style that makes you wish you were sitting on a your house porch, with a pitcher of lemonade or whatever your favorite drink watching the sunset on a cool Summer or brisk Autumn evening.

6. Michael FranksBlue Pacific*
Woman In the Wave
Vincent Ear
Chez Nouz
If you have followed my blog you know about me that Michael Franks is my boy. I once heard Michael referred to as, “The Quiet Talker”. His music arrangements and his smooth, thoughtful, intelligent, sometimes mushy lyrics has always captured my attention. I see why he captured his wife’s heart. I found out one of reasons his lyrics are so smooth and thoughtful is that he was once a teacher. Every album from Michael Franks has one theme…relaxation. Tropical scenes, lounging with that special, even caught in the rain Mr. Franks makes it romantic, sexy, erotic and exotic. This is one of my favorite albums because he takes on a trip with Vincent Van Gogh, running the distance (he’s a jogger), painting the sky with beautiful colors this album makes you want to go home and hug your love of your life because even after dealing with the chaos at work his songs makes you appreciate what you have at home and it makes you realize that you’re only at work 8-9hours a day and you don’t have to deal with that mess 24/7.

7. Earl KlughPeculiar Situation*
Peculiar Situation
Private Affair
Before You Go
To hear Earl Klugh play is like hearing angels sing, to me that is how he plays the acoustic guitar. I remember first hearing of Earl Klugh when he teamed up with George Benson and I thought, “man, I didn’t know the acoustic guitar could sound so cool.” This was one of the CD’s I let my wife to be borrow and she thanks me for bringing this kind of music back into her life (and I bow). Listening to this album I can tune out just about any non sense that is going on around me at work. These track will make you meditate on what’s important in life. For me it’s God’s word, my wife, the friends I have made in Florida, in the Vox community, life itself. I wish they would play music like this in our workplace, maybe this will make people chill and relax. Wishful thinking huh? Oh well, I can dream can’t I? Well, at least I can listen to it and his harmony builds a cocoon around my mind, my soul of sure peace and tranquility.

Honorable Mention
Braxton BrothersNow & Forever*
All My Love
Can We Try Again
Saying Goodbye

To hear the sound of the bass guitar and sultry sounds of the saxophones takes me back to when I was single, living in my one bedroom apartment, relaxing on my couch and having Kenya(my grey/white tabby cat) chillin’ with me on a Saturday evening. Each of their songs takes you on a relaxing drive through the park, the country side or just out doing nothing. The twin brothers from San Francisco have come a long way and their sound has matured over which will be sweet to your ears while tuning out the chaos around you.

Donald Fagen’s Nightfly & Kamakiriad*
New Frontier
Green Flower Street
Trans-Island Skies
Tomorrow’s Girl
What I love about Donald Fagen‘s albums are how nostalgic they make me feel. Nightfly & Kamakiriad is how they take me on a journey into the future. Nightfly is the album for daydreaming about how the future will be and Kamakiriad is showing that the future is here and it’s not so bad. I don’t care what mood I’m in at work whenever I hear I.G.Y. it makes me feel so good because it reminds me on how much I love being a geek, love technology, IMs friends, listening to Leo, Patrick, Amber and my boy Fave(put links by each of their names). I may not have my flying car yet or my “Kamakiriad” but this is next back thing It reminds me that even though my co-workers are behind in the times but I’m Donald Fagen is keeping on track to keep my eye on the future.

Michael FranksPassionfruit*
Alone at Night
Sunday Morning Here With You
Never Say Die
I can’t enough about this CD. To me every and I do mean EVERY track is a classic. From “Amazon” to “How Does Your Garden Grow?” This was the second LP I bought of Michael Franks and I wore the cassette out (thank goodness I made copies of the original and you know I had to buy the CD). To me, Marvin Gaye, Teddy, Luther are true poets to me and Michael Franks is the “Blue eyed” poet who’s tracks flow one to another on this album. I have about 6 or 7 CDs from him and it was hard for me not to put this in my top 7. For me, Mr. Franks can do no wrong.

Will Downing/Gerald AlbrightPleasure of the Night*
Pleasure of the Night
Here’s That Rainy Day
Stop, Look, (Listen to your Heart)
What is there to say about these two gifted musicians but WOW! I love the voice of Will and the sax playing of Gerald but to have them collaborated is a bonus. The vocal of Will on, “Stop, Look, (Listen To your Heart), and Michelle (the classic song by The Beatles) will make you sing along, will make fellows wish they could sing that to their lady, will make ladies wish this was a song about them. When I hear this I think of cool nights, seating on the patio with my love and forgetting that I am at work sometimes. The instrumental tracks is a major bonus on this CD I know you will sit back and listen to time and time again.

Boney JamesBody Language*
Into the Blue
I’ll Always Love You
Are You Ready?
Before she became my wife we dated for a while and this was my first CD I bought her and I think that really made her fall in love with me. This CD has to be one of best jazz albums out here. the first time I let my buddy, Big Art listen to it the first thing that came out of his mouth was, “this cat(Boney) had to have hung around some brothas”. This CD has done so much for me over the years, help me win my wife, made fall in love the saxophone again. To hear this CD while at work takes my mind completely off of my surroundings, help me concentrate on my work and brings a smile to my face at the same time.

Acoustic AlchemyBack on the Case*
Jamiaca Heartbeat
Playing for Time
Clear Air for Miles
My first encounter with Acoustic Alchemy was in the late 90s. I just moved to St. Louis working the very early shift at Venture department store. While driving to work I heard the song, “Overnight Sleeper” and I had to find out what person or group was that. Later on I found out it was Acoustic Alchemy and the hunt was on for the cassette. I did not get the album the first time around but I finally got my hands on the album, “Natural Elements”. The late Nick Webb and Greg Carmichael, a duo out of England played the acoustic guitars (see a theme with me) and their harmony blew me away. Fast forward to this CD I pick for you to put on your mp3(Back on the Case) is an album that once you hear you will thank me. Playing for Time, Jamaica Heartbeat only will take you to another time and place but this album has other tracks that will keep on track, get engulfed in they rhythms and wish the CD will never end. The cool blend of their guitars makes you smile, pause and thank God that He has given gifts like this to musicians.

*Some of my favorites tracks from each LP

To hear some of the tracks go here