no seriously, a nice optical compressor would probably be hard to beat for what seems to be what you are looking for (jazz, tracking duties etc..) They tend to sound fairly natural. There are a lot of different compressors that use an optical gain reduction element, I surely haven't tried them all. From the famous La2a, la3a, la4 to joe meek compressor to tons of others. Electrically they are extremely simple and you should be able to find a very decent sounding one for fairly inexpensive.
Hope that helps a little.