Masters At Work The Tenth Anniversary Collection Part Two 1996-2000

Where Part One collected the best of this duo's garage innovations from the early '90s, Part Two showcases most of the hits from the latter half of the decade, when the MAW sound (and thus, house music as a whole) was crossing over into the areas of Latin, jazz, soul and breakbeats. Unlike the previous four-disc collection, Part Two sounds less temporal; there's not a single track here that suggests that it might have had more vitality when it first came out or that it needs to be heard in a context of DJ-mix. While part of this is obviously due to the fact that some of these tracks are still "new" for most listeners, the source of their appeal ultimately lies in the sophistry of the Masters' arrangements, many of which involve the re-introduction of live musicians to an otherwise very electronic dance music. George Benson makes a few appearances here, lending his uplifting, guitar-mimicking vocals to the fluffy grooves of "You Can Do It Baby" and then on "The Ghetto/El Barrio," with its movements from urban, African-American funk to rootsy, Latin-jazz fusion. The joy of genre-bending transitions/translations is also the driving force on MAW's Nu Yorican re-visioning of Roni Size's "Watching Windows," as they shifting from lush, mid-tempo junglism to a live-band salsa. Other highlights include the mixes of Kenny Lattimore's "Days Like This," which takes the crooner's vocals into a gorgeous, live-house dimension, and India's "To Be In Love," with the long, beat-less breakdown that features the diva belting out an operatic-erotic vocal. "Brazilian Beat," featuring Da Lata's Lilliana in a rare Anglo form, sets a new standard for Brazilian music in the 21st century, with its techno-like layering of fierce, bata drum fragments to produce the most brilliant set of poly-rhythms to hit the floor in years. The soulful garage re-mixes of Jerald Daemyon, Black Magic and Incognito, among others, are included as well, but they sound almost conventional in comparison. The box set might be a little more consistent were their work with 4 Hero or Kenny Bobien been included as well. (BBE)