St Germain

***Boulevard (1996; Pias America, 2002)
***1/2Tourist (Blue Note, 2000)

St Germain is the working name Ludovic Navarre, a Frenchman who adds jazz improvisations over laid-back dance beats to produce what he on one track he calls "easy listening underground house music." The original release of Boulevard found a popular niche for such light fare, selling over 200,000 copies. This has, in turn, emboldened Navarre to make his later work more upbeat and jazzier. The reissue of Boulevard adds two tracks: one a latin feast with congas, piano and flute; the other a disco throwback.

Tourist is denser and richer. Kicked off by a fast beat and a sample that goes "I want you to get together", interwoven with trumpet and sax solos, it sets up tension, but the rest of the album only delivers a series of syncopated soundscapes, the jazz musicians playing one-on-one against the rhythm.