Giant Step's Soul Sessions is a compilation, not a mix album, spotlighting tracks from a diverse cast of artists inspired by soul. (Anyone troubled by the nebulous definition of the word circa 2002 will find one from each of the artists in the liner notes, like this one from Donnie: "It neither hungers, breathes, fights, has color, race or gender.") The music is far better than the liners, pursuing the same earnest fusion of acid jazz, house, and contemporary R&B that's united global concerns from Tokyo to Munich to London to San Francisco. Ultra Naté, one of the finest contemporary R&B vocalists, opens with the lush, largely acoustic "Twisted." Working with Jonathan Maron as Atlantis, Giant Step regular Ron Trent delivers the highlight: "Future Love," an earthy fusion of Lonnie Liston Smith atmosphere and Roy Ayers' groove. Joe Claussell's house remix of "The Essence" features Herbie Hancock with Chaka Khan. The producer tracks account for roughly half of the compilation, though vocalists Carl Hancock Rux and Jody Watley both acquit themselves nicely. With deep grooves but a largely acoustic setting, Soul Sessions succeeds in pulling fans from all manner of genres: dance music, acid jazz, even vocal music.