Jazz Related RnB

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The line between jazz and RnB is often blurry. Both styles of music come from the same sources and both influence each other as they constantly cross paths. The Jazz Related RnB genre at JMA pays tribute to RnB bands that are not jazz bands in name only. For example, the early to mid-70s version of Earth Wind and Fire caught the attention of many jazz and fusion fans with their virtuoso horn charts, poly-rhythmic foundation and extended harmonies over modern jazz chord changes. Many of the RnB artists listed in this genre had a strong impact on the development of jazz.

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Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm

STEELY DAN Aja Album Cover Aja
STEELY DAN
4.68 | 20 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Innervisions Album Cover Innervisions
STEVIE WONDER
4.77 | 11 ratings
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STEELY DAN Countdown to Ecstasy Album Cover Countdown to Ecstasy
STEELY DAN
4.64 | 16 ratings
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EARTH WIND & FIRE Gratitude Album Cover Gratitude
EARTH WIND & FIRE
4.93 | 4 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Talking Book Album Cover Talking Book
STEVIE WONDER
4.59 | 10 ratings
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ISAAC HAYES Hot Buttered Soul Album Cover Hot Buttered Soul
ISAAC HAYES
4.64 | 7 ratings
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EARTH WIND & FIRE All 'n' All Album Cover All 'n' All
EARTH WIND & FIRE
4.74 | 5 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Fulfillingness' First Finale Album Cover Fulfillingness' First Finale
STEVIE WONDER
4.59 | 8 ratings
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BOOKER T & THE MGS Green Onions (aka Booker T & The MG's) Album Cover Green Onions (aka Booker T & The MG's)
BOOKER T & THE MGS
4.89 | 3 ratings
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CURTIS MAYFIELD Curtis/Live! Album Cover Curtis/Live!
CURTIS MAYFIELD
4.89 | 3 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Songs in the Key of Life Album Cover Songs in the Key of Life
STEVIE WONDER
4.48 | 9 ratings
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CURTIS MAYFIELD Curtis Album Cover Curtis
CURTIS MAYFIELD
4.24 | 7 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy JMA!

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jazz related rnb Music Reviews

RAY CHARLES Spotlight On Ray Charles

Boxset / Compilation · 1962 · Jazz Related RnB
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js
“Spotlight on Ray Charles” is a Pickwick label compilation from 1962 that shows up a lot in thrift stores and used record shops, yet no one seems to know much about it. Pickwick is one of the most notorious cheap labels ever. The unwitting buyer of this album should be glad that the songs are actually performed by Charles, because Pickwick was known for putting out albums on which a famous artist’s songs would be played by Pickwick staff musicians, without a trace of the artist featured on the album cover, a fact often hidden with tiny print.

This album comes with very little information, except some false information about a George Brown Orchestra that apparently does not appear on any tracks. Instead, about half of the songs on here feature Charles from very early in his career (approx 1949) playing and crooning in a laid back jazz/blues trio in a style very similar to Nat King Cole. If you are mostly familiar with Ray’s later revved up RnB hits such as “What I’d Say”, these songs show a whole nother side to brother Ray. The other half of the songs on “Spotlight” are totally different and feature rough early rock n roll/jump blues instrumentals with a very loud honkin saxophone in the style of Arnett Cobb or Jay McNeely. Since the album cover is no help, a little research reveals that several of these rockin tunes come from a session in 1952, but no credits were given for that session. Ray was working with a variety of tenor players at that time, so its hard to tell who the lead sax man is. All of these songs are quite good and this could have been a decent compilation if they had put one style on one side of the album, and the other on the other side, but instead they mixed them together in strict alternation for irrational reasons unknown.

Even with the obtuse mixture of styles, this still isn’t too bad of a compilation, and since its Pickwick, it sells for cheap. Anyone interested in hearing what Ray Charles was doing before he became a well known RnB singer should pick this up. The early jazz/blues tunes are nice, and the honkin RnR should liven up any social occasion. Its interesting hearing some of this old ‘honkin’ rockin sax style, listening to the horn used in such a loud forceful and almost primitive way makes you realize where early 60s avant-garde guys like Albert Alyer and Archie Shepp were coming from, in many ways, they were just bringing back the prevalent jump blues style of the 40s and taking it for an extended ride.

YUSEF LATEEF Hush 'n' Thunder

Album · 1973 · Jazz Related RnB
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Sean Trane
This HnT release might seem somewhat of an oddball to YL fans, maybe because most of the tracks are attributed to pianist Kenny Barron, who happens to be all over it. Recorded at Atlantic’s studio in 72, the album is fairly representative of those days’ 60’s jazz artistes trying to find their way through a changed music landscapes where they had lost their spot.

Opening with Duke’s Come Sunday with only Yusef’s flute and a cello, the album veers fusiony with the following funky The Hump that prefigures the later-70’s jazz-funk - and YL’s own APP release four years later. The two-parts 8-mins Opus is much more of a pure fusion piece, despite opening very softly, but Barron’s Rhodes and Yusef’s flute, both underlined by a lovely cello, are pure bliss; the second movement slowly gains momentum and we can hear YL’s heavy air intake to blow in the flute, much like what Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson did and included it in his music. Closing the A-side is a weird semi-gospel and NO jazz This Old Building piece that opens on construction machine noises. Definitely out of context, if you ask me.

The flipside opens on the funky Prayer that features the shannai (that’s an Indian wind instrument that looks like a kazoo – its spelling varies) and a pneumatic flute (wtf is that?? ;-), but we’re again dealing in the region of The Hump. The almost 8-mins Sunset is dissonant and could be compared to Mwandishi’s calmer moments. The Sparrow cover piece is a return to the gospel thing, and personally, I find it insufferably long and overstaying its welcome by the third of its duration (gospel is really not the thing of this atheist). The closing Destination Paradise is an atmospheric piece that relates well with the Opus and Sunset fusion pieces.

I’m not sure I would define this album as post-bop, because it’s an extremely varied affair, ranging from gospel-soul to pure fusion. I personally fully endorse its adventurous fusion part and to an extent its funk extension, but personally can’t stand the gospel part, which I not only find intrusive, but ruining the album’s cohesiveness.

YUSEF LATEEF Autophysiopsychic

Album · 1977 · Jazz Related RnB
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Sean Trane
By the later half of the 70’s, most 50’s and 60’s jazz artistes that wanted to survive had to go commercial and do albums that were into soul-jazz or jazz-funk, and one had to wonder how willingly they did so. Certainly YL’s APP was a border case, despite Yusef writing four of the five tracks on the present album, the last one being by producer Matthews – probably an arrangement between him and YL, because of the heavy arrangements on that track and others on the album. This could’ve also been a CTI album (actually it is one, but via the Epic label), as it was produced by Creed Taylor and Eric Gale plays guitar, but don’t expect the soft jazz fusion of the earlier CTI albums: we’re rather dealing with a solid funk album, but the main solo instrument is Art Farmer’s flugelhorn - he gets a special mention on the album’s sleeve. This writer is not particularly familiar with the other musicians on the album, but one would assume that they’re pure funk people: certain bassist Gary King and drummer Madison (the CD booklet surprisingly also mentions Steve Gadd) sound like it’s their main background.

Recorded at Hendrix’ old studio Electric Lady in October 77, the album is definitely more of a funk album with slight jazz overtones - mostly the wind instruments (Yussef’s sax and flute and Farmer’s horns) - and there are plenty of vocals (mainly Yussef’s, apparently. To be honest, while this album may attract your curiosity through a promise of adventurous musical escapades, I find it very repetitive (and weak in terms of lyrics) and relatively shallow; but then again leter-70’s funk albums with an eye onto the disco scene tend to be that way. Does this mean that this is a bad album? Most likely, this is an excellent pure funk album, but if you’re expecting the usual YL albums, you could be in for a solid disappointment. The relatively lengthy songs are just straightforward funk with little deviance from the groove installed and boring lyrics repeated endlessly (“say in touch with your mind” ) and only the (very good) quality of the wind instrument solos to really present interest. Only the YL song present more interest (IMHO, of course) with its slightly different sonics (the arrangements), but even then, it remains very funky.

The album’s title is reminiscent of his Psychicemotus he’d recorded for the Impulse label back in 65, but there aren’t any sonic links between the two. Given YL’s prolific discography and the wide sonic variety he indulged in, this APP release might just be one of his most WTF release, and you might want to approach it carefully, despite the luscious 70’s sounds and production values. Clearly looking for a direction he would feel comfortable with, this was to be the second last album he’d release for a few years, the next one coming in the mid-80’s.

THE OHIO PLAYERS The Very Best Of (The World Of) Ohio Players (aka The Ohio Players aka First Fruit)

Boxset / Compilation · 1975 · Jazz Related RnB
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js
“The Very Best of the Ohio Players” is a collection of tunes recorded by the Players early in their career, before they developed their signature funk sound in the 70s. At this early stage in their career they were playing a very energetic and aggressive RnB that leaned heavily on Wilson Pickett and James Brown, as well as newer RnB bands with large vocal ensembles such as the Isley Brothers and the Temptations. Also, the slightly rough recorded sound and loose approach is reminiscent of fellow Ohioans, Funkadelic’s early records. If the Players had never switched to the funk, they probably would have gone down as one of the better RnB bands in history and that’s why this record is such a treat for Player’s fans and fans of late 60s RnB.

There are no duds on this record, every song is smoking hot with excellent vocal leads and ensemble horn work, all trademarks of the Player’s sound which will become well known in the 70s. Some highlights include a couple jazzy instrumentals, “Find Someone to Love” and “Alabama Soupbone”, and an incredible high pitched vocal rendition of the classic ballad “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. I’m not sure who the un-credited singer on “Rainbow” is (I have the 1977 United Artists version of this record) but towards the end of the song he takes the vocal line up into Phillip Bailey range. This ‘unique’ choice of a cover tune and the Player’s over-the-top rendition works both as ironic kitsch and a damn good performance, the double whammy of great art wherever you find it.

These tunes from the Ohio Players early days tend to get re-packaged under a variety of names. Whatever the name of the collection you run into, if you are an RnB or funk fan, you will definitely want to pick this up. The sound is rough, but that doesn’t hurt the music much at all.

HERBIE MANN Turtle Bay

Album · 1973 · Jazz Related RnB
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js
In the early 70s Herbie Mann was on a roll, producing one groovy RnB/jazz record after another and gladly raking in the cash. Herbie was always tops with the fans, and often derided by the critics, for his fun crowd pleasing semi-jazz that was easy on the ears and often great for dancing and partying. Despite the easy approach, some of these records can be quite good, while others tip the scale of commercialism and come across as complete disco fluff. “Turtle Bay” falls right between those two extremes, not a great album, but not too bad either. As is the case with a lot of Herbie’s records, there are some gems buried in the pabulum.

The album opens strong with a great cover of Sly Stone’s “Family Affair”, but then lapses into mediocrity for most of the rest of side one. The watered down pop-reggae of “Never Ending Love Song” is probably the best of the rest on this side. Side two is a little stronger all the way around with a spaced out take on the Allman’s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” being the highlight of the album. This cut is a must have for any good acid jazz DJ, and so is the Latin flavored take on Steely Dan’s “Do it Again".

Overall this is a worthwhile purchase for Herbie Mann fans, as well as fans of proto acid jazz and groove based music in general. There are a couple great cuts on here and no outright bad ones, just a few that are a little bland.

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