Pop/Art Song/Folk

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The Jazz Related Pop/Art Song/Folk genre is for artists who perform pop jazz music, for instance; George Benson, Bob James, David Sanborn and Wes Montgomery. This genre also includes jazz influenced art song performers such as Tuomi and Robert Wyatt, as well as jazz influenced folk performers such as Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell.

pop/art song/folk top albums

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MILTON NASCIMENTO Clube da Esquina Album Cover Clube da Esquina
4.80 | 6 ratings
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STEVE WINWOOD Roll With It Album Cover Roll With It
4.62 | 7 ratings
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ROBERT WYATT Rock Bottom Album Cover Rock Bottom
4.40 | 27 ratings
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STING The Soul Cages Album Cover The Soul Cages
4.35 | 9 ratings
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JONI MITCHELL Joni Mitchell (aka Song to a Seagull) Album Cover Joni Mitchell (aka Song to a Seagull)
4.48 | 3 ratings
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CHICAGO Stone of Sisyphus Album Cover Stone of Sisyphus
4.35 | 4 ratings
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PAOLO CONTE Tournée Album Cover Tournée
4.50 | 2 ratings
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DONALD FAGEN The Nightfly Album Cover The Nightfly
4.10 | 11 ratings
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CHICAGO Chicago VII Album Cover Chicago VII
4.11 | 8 ratings
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ROBERT WYATT Old Rottenhat Album Cover Old Rottenhat
4.12 | 4 ratings
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PAUL SIMON Graceland Album Cover Graceland
4.12 | 4 ratings
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BLOOD SWEAT & TEARS Blood, Sweat & Tears Album Cover Blood, Sweat & Tears
4.00 | 9 ratings
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A Midnight Rendezvous
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pop/art song/folk Music Reviews

CHET BAKER Blood, Chet And Tears

Album · 1970 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Does a cheezy album title mean that the music on said album will be cheezy too, in the case of Chet Baker’s, “Blood, Chet and Tears”, it certainly does. In case you don’t get the reference, the album’s title is based on the band name, Blood Sweat & Tears, only they snuck Chet’s name in there, ha ha ha, get it, yeah it’s a real downer. Anyway, with a title like that I assumed the whole album would be BS&T covers, and there are several of their songs on here, but they also felt the need to put some real corny classics on here like “Sugar Sugar:” by the pretend band, The Archies. Chet plays trumpet on all the songs and also sings on two of them. His backup band contains some top jazz and session musicians like Joe Pass, Tommy Tedesco and Hal Blaine, but nobody can save this album from being a rather bland outing. The arrangements are nothing special and most of Chet’s playing sounds like he is barely interested.

Of the bad entries, one of the worst is Chet’s vocal version of the Beatles’ “Something”. The original is a pop masterpiece but Baker seems very uncomfortable with the word flow and his usually distinctive vocal style never gets a chance with the overall plodding presentation. None of the BS&T songs do well, which is odd because there was a lot of jazz and big band arranging in that group, but the tunes don’t seem to inspire Chet too much. There are a few good ones on this album, “Evil Ways’ hit’s a groove and Baker almost sounds like Herb Alpert for a while. Chet’s lazy behind the beat phrasing on the trumpet is used to good effect on “Sugar”, making this one a good cut for one of those kitsch exotica CD compilations. The very best track by far though is Baker’s vocal version of “Come Saturday Morning”. It’s a well written song and Baker’s vocals floating over the string section is just sublime. Sometimes these kind of pop cover outings can be a lot of fun, such as Don Ellis’ “Connection”, but there just seems to be a lack of inspiration and energy on most of this Baker opus.

KENNEY POLSON For Lovers Only Volume II

Album · 2019 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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kev rowland
It is strange to hear an album like this in 2019 as in many ways it is about forty years out of time, even down to the backing vocals on the opener “Stella by Starlight”. This is very cleverly performed lounge jazz with often a latin feel, with production, sounds and guitarwork very reminiscent of what was happening with the music scene as they attempted to move away from disco, but were unsuccessful. It is very clever, and Polson is a great soloist playing within arrangements which always have him to the fore, but even the use of electronic keyboard/synths makes it all feel very dated indeed. In many ways I get the impression I am going to get a sugar overload, as there is just so much sweetness, but much of the raw heart has been ripped out of this and it becomes just too bland. Playing one or two songs is fine, but working my way through the album, which I have done multiple times, is still something of an effort as it all feels too plastic, too false, too veneered. I am sure that anyone into this style of jazz will get a great deal from it as there is no doubt that it is very well performed and produced indeed, just not for me.


Album · 2019 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Right now Kelley Suttenfield’s “When We were Young” is my number one pick for sleeper surprise masterpiece for this year, and unfortunately, its also an album that may fly under the radar and be missed by many who would enjoy it because she is not yet well known. On paper the idea of a female jazz singer covering the songs of Neil Young looks like the sort of thing that could go wrong in many directions. Do we really want to hear Neil’s classics treated to adventurous chord substitutions, metric modulation or scat vocalizing. Of course we don’t, and thankfully you won’t find any of that on Kelley’s sublime covers of both well known and somewhat obscure Neil Young compositions. Sattenfield and her small backing group keep things cool and relaxed and don’t try too hard to make the songs more ‘jazzy’, although it should be no surprise that many of Young’s songs are very similar to classic pop jazz tunes in the first place, particularly “Fool for Your Love”. It also helps that Kelley’s band mates all have diverse backgrounds and can dish out the country, folk and rock licks that are needed to keep Young’s songs sounding ‘real’.

One of the first things you may notice about Suttenfield’s interpretations of Neil’s lyrics is that she never changes his words to fit her gender. All of the lyrics that Young sings about his relationship with women remain as is which creates a very interesting atmosphere in which we are hearing Neil’s thoughts from a curiously feminine side of himself. If she had changed the words the album would be much less mesmerizing in its exploration of Young’s yearnings for his ‘better half’. In some ways the album sounds like Young’s lover has discovered his personal diary and is reading his thoughts out loud to herself.

The arrangements on here are outstanding, deceptively simple, but always serving the song, not the musicians. A string trio is used economically here and there and the keyboards and guitar engage in occasional short solos to help build momentum. Kelley’s vocal delivery is very much of the ‘cool’ school, but on songs like “The Needle and the Damage Done” and “Down by the River” she belts out some emotional chorus buildups. “When We were Young” has so much crossover potential and if given some decent promotion could find fans in the worlds of folk, country, pop, vocal jazz and classic rock. Do give this one a try, its probably better than what you are expecting.

JOE TEX Soul Country

Album · 1968 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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It was primarily the Southern Soul artists who were not shy in mixing up the two genres together being Soul and Country music with Memphis sitting so close to Nashville it was bound to happen. Many of the Southern greats have taken Country Soul on with Ray Charles who actually started in a Country Swing band being the most famous with his “Modern Sounds In Country And Western” as well as the underappreciated album “The Country Side Of Esther Philips” not even making a dent in the charts in 1965 apart from her previous 1962 single of “Release Me” which made it number two, three years prior. Solomon Burke, Clarence Carter, Bobby Womack, Tina Turner, Percy Sledge, Dobie Gray, Johnny Adams were some of the artists not to mention a couple of white guys writing songs being Dan Penn and Jim Ford but apart from Ray Charles, a bit of Clarence Carter and Dobie Gray’s single “Drift Away” when it came to the Country/Soul crossover predominately under the radar was where they went. Still Joe Tex in 1968 loved his Country music and he gave it a shot with actually what was pretty much current in the Country charts at that time with his release of “Soul Country” making it to 154th in the charts but the cloud did have a silver lining for him with his self written inclusion on the album “I’ll Never Do You Wrong” making it to 59 on mainstream and 26th on the R&B charts. It is a shame actually because although not in the same top class as Ray’s and Esther’s albums this one it is pretty close being full of some wonderful interpretations from Joe singing the current Country songs from this period.

Joe Tex’s own Soul composition “I’ll Never do you Wrong’ with its slow to mid tempo time kicks the album off with some great vocals and backing in this wonderful tune. The Country comes right in with Joe’s fabulous take of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe” concerning that Tallahatchie Bridge. One of Dan Penn’s songs co written with Chips Morman brings more Soul back into the album with a beautiful take for the ballad “ The Dark End Of The Street” followed by quite a nice version of Willie Nelson’s,” Funny How Time Slips Away”. Roger Miller get’s the Joe treatment next in a delightful bounce in the song for Roger’s 1965 single “Engine Engine Number 9” and then for the Lp’s flip it is the Henson Cargill hit “Skip A Rope” that comes first. That old Death Row song “Green Green Grass Of Home” written by Curly Putman which Tom Jones had the massive hit with has Joe taking it on with some great effect followed by another Curly Putman composition in the slow burner concerning a possessive husband in “Set Me Free”. Still there are two more songs that were huge Country hits to follow with Jimmie Webb’s “By The Time I Get to Phoenix” which Glen Campbell made his own and cringe or not it is Bobbie Goldboro’s “Honey” which also made it to number 1 in America, Canada, Ireland and Australia that finishes the album up and of course Joe delivers pathos plus in this one and you may be reaching for the hanky.

Joe sings “Honey I miss you” but you know I also miss all these great songs that I grew up hearing with this album bringing them all back and Joe Tex showing why Country Soul should of been a lot bigger.This album is one of the best of them with the two prior that I mentioned above and if you like either genre of music,grab it.

MARC RIBOT Songs of Resistance 1942-2018

Album · 2018 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Marc Ribot’s latest offering “Songs Of Resistance 1942-2018” comprises quite a few well known guests covering some originals and old nuggets fitting the album’s title. Tom Waits, Steve Earle, Fay Victor, Meshell Ndegeocello, Sam Amidon , Justin Vivian Bond and an artist who does not want to be named due to possible ramifications concerning their residential status is mentioned as “Ohene Cornelius”. The album was recorded as a protest against the current U. S. Administration with eleven tracks included with Fay Victor being the biggest contributor after Marc Ribot of course as she appears on three with Steve Earle being an old political campaigner himself appearing in two.

The old Gospel number “We Are Soldiers In The Army” with Fay Victor on vocals gets things underway with some quite interesting saxophone accompaniment bringing a different touch to this old nugget but what the majority of listeners will be interested in is the following old Italian Anti Fascist song “Bella Ciao ( Goodbye Beautiful)” with Tom Waits providing his unique style delivered close to a lament with Marc Ribot’s guitar backing it all up as he has done on so many songs that they have recorded together. Steve Earle wrote “Srinvas” concerning an Indian immigrant’s murder as a direct result from racism with quite a pick up for the tunes ending. “How To Walk In Freedom” is where we get the folk singer Sam Amidon leading vocals with Fay Victor assisting with flute bringing texture to the song and “Rata De Dos Patas” is Latin based with a not to subtle English introduction for the persona Ohene Cornelius.The protest songs keep coming with two more from Marc Ribot, Fay Victor doing “John Brown”, another from Steve Earle and even the trans genre artist Justin Vivian Bond comes in to finish things up with “We’ll Never Turn Back” and perhaps even Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger might approve.

Interesting listen and I have tried to keep out of the politics not being my own Country and just cover the music with what it is about and there are some great sounding songs and tunes included and I hope that they do resonate from this project for the artists. Tom Waits is a great addition for Marc Ribot within the album as he will increase sales with those fans of Tom’s that want them all, still I feel like many Political themed album’s they are doomed to a short lifespan.

pop/art song/folk movie reviews

STING Bring On The Night

Movie · 2005 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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The concept here is a documentary of a band forming, The Blue Turtles Band, rather than a band at their peak or breaking up. Fortunately it is heavier on the music than the documentary.

The first half takes place in a French countryside chateaux and consists of presentable songs from nine days of practice sessions for what was to be their first show. Everyone in the band seems to be having a good time. The chateaux provides nice a nice backdrop to the sessions. The second half is the show itself.

Since this was Sting's first post Police effort, there's a lot of reworked Police songs mixed in with tracks from the first album. It's sort of like the Police meets jazz with Andy Summers ejected so Sting could play guitar. The band line up is primarily younger jazz musicians that already had a good reputation for work they had done before hooking up with Sting.

There are interview excerpts between the songs. One of the more interesting ones was Miles Copeland, Sting's manager and Stewart's brother going on about negotiations with the rest of the band. He was extremely dismissive of the band in relation to Sting when it came to monetary compensation. I suspect that was more about himself getting a bigger piece of the pie than a reflection on Sting, although I do recall him guest appearing on a Saturday Night Live show with Steve Marting and Steve introducing him as Stin-gy.

I originally saw this one in a theater and was really pleased to see it released being reworked with "high definition digital anamorphic picture transfer and digitally remastered surround audio." It actually does look a little sharper than I recall and I think the orginal sound was just stereo.

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