Various Artists 

Verve Remixed (Verve)

When bebop hit the scene, critics and other un-hepcats maligned the movement as inarticulate noise with little artistic merit. So it's only fitting that another clan of outsiders, dance-music DJs, should reinterpret the now-classic sounds of Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, and Shirley Horne.

Whether it's Joe Claussell laying a deep and funky bassline for Simone to purr "Feelin' Good" over or Thievery Corporation making the already dreamy "Who Needs Forever" by Astrud Gilberto even more ethereal, each song comes through with nary a misplaced scratch. Hearing Rae & Christian blast a pumping horn refrain through Dinah Washington's "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?" makes one wonder why it took so long to pair DJs with jazz legends.

But not all DJs are about dance-floor material; when Tricky gets the chance to spill his sonic gloom over Holiday's haunting version of "Strange Fruit," the brutal imagery of a Southern lynching becomes all the more exquisitely unnerving. The same holds true for UFO's soothing string arrangements on Sarah Vaughan's version of "Summertime," a track so finely mixed, it practically emanates a mid-July warmth. Anyone who has yet to be turned on by the DJ thing may want to give this mix a try.

More by Kevin McLaughlin


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