Giant Step Records
Name of Album: Soul Sessions
Ratings: Personal - 3 General - 4
Release Date: Out Now

They say three times is a charm. So, I've listened to this record now more than twice and still am not sure where this is going. The first time was with the fellas playing poker (I promised I'd mention them) and I was in a heightened, yet distant state of awareness. In this aloof intimacy Giant Step's Soul Sessions was a touch and go experience: it touched me in some places, but had me running away in others. Not so much that I was turned off and turned away, but just that I did not feel welcome or enticed to go beyond the vestibule of its overture.

This album combines a few tunes that I have come to know and love in other lives on other albums, but other than these captive moments I am not taken by the experience of this album over all. I think it might provide a fair introduction to Giant Steps' repertoire, but I almost think that a stack of CDs individually played, although quite time consuming, would present a prettier picture, than this sampler which plays for little more than an hour. There's no rhyme or reason to the compilation. And granted I don't believe any hipster chatting away at the bar will find anything wrong with this record, but I think the more discriminating listener would beg to differ.

I'll not recommend this as a must-buy, but if you happen across in a used-bin, or someone has a promo to offer, take a chance and listen, especially if you are not familiar with Giant Step. Pay close attention to the following: track 9, In a Heartbeat by Koop comes from their album Waltz for Koop, which is a great album and highly recommended; track 12, Mariposa (meaning butterfly in Spanish) by Nickodemus and Osiris is a good sample of what is coming out of the Paris Lounge scene these days. I do not know what album this comes from but I am familiar with Nickodemus's work from the Import album Hotel Costes 3 put together by MC [Stephane Pompougnac, also a recommended buy, especially if you need a hip intro to this genre of music; and sweet number 13 is Happiness by Shawn Lee. I first heard this beautiful tune on Zero 7's, Another Late Nite album and yes, surprise-surprise, it is also one you should own!

As for the rest of the tracks, maybe it is just the mood I'm in, but I could take them or leave them. The soul kick that the label has been on lately is not necessarily my cup of tea. Pleasant sounds to grind to, but nothing that I would place in the carousel otherwise.

Nonetheless, Giant Step wins much praise from me otherwise. They have been on the forefront of music for as long as my New York memory goads me. I moved here to the City in 1992 and Giant Step's hip-hop jazz fusion club gigs played part in some of my fondest outings as an aspiring wanna-be whatever. A decade later the more sophisticated me has essentially grown up with the Company that grew from event promoter to record label that now holds, creates and promotes its own music. Hence, being part of the vanguard means you can't always satisfy all of your loyal fans. So, here's to you Giant Step, may you keep on producing something original. Kudos.