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.

jazz related rnb top albums

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
4.92 | 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
4.58 | 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
4.47 | 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

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.

JAMES BROWN Super Bad

Album · 1971 · Jazz Related RnB
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js
Although “Super Bad” was recorded in 1971 when James Brown’s band was at its peak creating the new funk sound, there is a surprising mixture of styles on here that also encompass other phases of Brown’s career. The back side of the album cover claims that this is a live album, but its well known by now that the applause on here was added later. The fact that James never talks to the “audience” would be the first give away to me. Few entertainers engaged their audience to the degree that James would.

This album opens with the title song, “Super Bad” (parts 1,2 & 3, oh my!), which brings on the hardcore funk to start things right. There are no musician credits on here, but more than likely that is Jimmy Nolan scratching out a persistent syncopated riff on the guitar to a fast break-beat while James exhorts his musicians and asks for saxophonist Maceo Parker to “give me some Trane”. Maceo responds with screeching saxophone in the new avant-garde style of John Coltrane. This free soloing over an energetic relentless rhythm can be seen as a forerunner for the “free funk” and “punk jazz” scenes of the early 80s. In fact, if you owned this track plus Miles “Get Up With It” and Sly’s “There’s a Riot Going On”, you were on top of where a lot of music was heading.

For being an early 70s JB album, its surprising that the lengthy title track is the only funk tune on here, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the album is bad at all. If you like Brown’s way with ballads, he has two great ones on here, “Sometime” and “A Man’s got to Go Back to the Crossroads”. Both deal with heartbreak in that way that only James can, where he lays his life on the line with every word. “Let it be Me” and “By the Time I get to Phoenix” are up-tempo soulful remakes of pop classics. “Let it be Me” is the best of the two due to some un-credited high energy female vocals, possibly Lynn Collins. Longtime James fans will have to laugh when he finishes the first line on “Phoenix” with his signature “Hunh!! The one oddball number on here is “Giving out of Juice”, a straight up blues with a slight rock sound featuring heavily distorted guitar fills and solos. Possibly James was going for the hippie crowd on that one, ha.

James Brown fans will want to get this, lots of good tunes on here, but those looking for the pure funk will want to check out some of his other late 60s and early 70s recordings.

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JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

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