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 | 5 min. caching

STEVIE WONDER Innervisions Album Cover Innervisions
STEVIE WONDER
4.73 | 13 ratings
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STEELY DAN Aja Album Cover Aja
STEELY DAN
4.65 | 23 ratings
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STEELY DAN Countdown to Ecstasy Album Cover Countdown to Ecstasy
STEELY DAN
4.62 | 17 ratings
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EARTH WIND & FIRE Gratitude Album Cover Gratitude
EARTH WIND & FIRE
4.93 | 4 ratings
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EARTH WIND & FIRE All 'n' All Album Cover All 'n' All
EARTH WIND & FIRE
4.72 | 6 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Talking Book Album Cover Talking Book
STEVIE WONDER
4.59 | 10 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
4.85 | 4 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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STEVIE WONDER Fulfillingness' First Finale Album Cover Fulfillingness' First Finale
STEVIE WONDER
4.58 | 8 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
4.46 | 10 ratings
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GABOR SZABO High Contrast Album Cover High Contrast
GABOR SZABO
4.38 | 4 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

PRINCE Prince

Album · 1979 · Jazz Related RnB
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siLLy puPPy
Despite the debut album being a complete commercial flop, PRINCE quickly followed up with a successor releasing his eponymous second album in October of 1979 and once again basically every single aspect of the album was handled by PRINCE himself including the songwriiting, production, arrangements and musical performances. This album showed PRINCE expanding his eclectic tentacles even further into the nooks and crannies of the musical world. While the album still retains a dominant R&B and synth funk presence, on album number two we get a lot more indicating telltale signs that the future purple one is unfurling his talents just a like a lotus flower unfolding its petals into full bloom. He is also showing first signs of loving to be naked! A shirtless PRINCE graces the cover and he is gleefully riding a unicorn unclothed on the back.

While the first couple of tracks are his usual shtick of synth funk verging on disco exclusively done in falsetto, on the third track “Sexy Dancer” we get a glimpse into some of the future purple one’s sound with a funk guitar taking control fortified with a groovy bass line and a healthy libido oriented lyrical litany complete with heavy breathing rhythmic accompaniments. Actually an early glimpse into the mega-hit “Kiss” to emerge a few years later.

Unfortunately some of my least favorite aspects of PRINCE are present here as well. I’m speaking of the over sappy ballads displayed here with “When We’re Dancing Close And Slow.” OK, maybe if you’re all hot and bothered by the album cover then this might do it for ya, but i’m sorry it’s not working for yours truly. Same goes for “With You,” the very next track which shows that the purple one hadn’t quite learned the art of pacing upbeat tracks with the slower moon howlers that i can’t stand. “Still Waiting” is the exception where PRINCE has a catchy piano man persona and has a beautiful melody that technically is a ballad but has a mid-tempo beat and a more interesting flow of chords, rhythms and harmonies.

The sixth track “Bambi” changes everything and debuts PRINCE’s brilliance of incorporating rock ’n’ roll into his synth funk visions. This track has a nice distorted guitar accompanied by a more real rocking drum beat. While this one rocks complete with little licks that would develop into PRINCE’s unique guitar soloing style, this one is still in tandem with the rest of the album with his falsetto only vocal style and funkified song structure. Still though, a prototype for his more rocking mojo of future hits such as “Let’s Get Crazy” and “U Got The Look.”

While this second album failed to score any significant chart climbing singles, it did hit number 22 on the Billboard album charts and was certified gold in the not too distant future. Despite the lack of singles it did however hit the R&B charts with “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?.” This album is also notable with the eighth track “I Feel For You” which was remade by Chaka Khan in 1984 and proved to be a huge hit which would be the first of songs written by PRINCE and performed by others to prove major chart success. Proof that PRINCE was first and foremost a songwriting behemoth who would go on to write countless tracks for other artists (think The Time, Stevie Nicks and of course Sinead O’Connor as well as the countless acts he spawned over the years.)

JAMES BROWN Hot

Album · 1975 · Jazz Related RnB
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js
Ironically titled “Hot”, this album, except for a few cuts, is not, but instead marks the beginning of James Brown’s long downhill slide that will take up the rest of his career. At this point, there was really no where else for James to go but down. His successes from the 60s into the early 70s made him one of the most energetic, creative and visionary artists in the pop/RnB/rock field, and his wide reaching influence was topped only by Hendrix and the Beatles. Its hard for any artist to burn bright for ever, and “Hot” is evidence of that.

It’s a strange mish-mash that makes up this thrown together album. Side one opens with title song, “Hot”, which is basically a direct lift of David Bowie and Carlos Alomar’s famous “Fame” riff retooled to sound like James and his group. Some are critical of this one, but it hits a solid groove. This is followed by a couple older pop songs updated for no particular reason other than to fill up an album. They’re not bad tracks really, but hardly great either. Track three, “Try Me”, is a terrible update of one of James’ classic ballads. The orchestration is sweet simple corn syrup that would be a better fit on a children’s album or something by Rick Wakeman. Side one closes with some bizarre psychedelic funk that would be alright except that there are these incidental vocal noises that are mixed too loud.

Side two starts strong with the classic funk of “Woman”, easily the best track on the album. The rest of side two is made up of more pop re-makes, some better than others. The best of these is “Most of All”, a doo-wop flavored tune with sophisticated jazzy orchestrations and interesting time change-ups, it also features some of James' best vocals on the album. The re-make of Brown's classic “Please, Please, Please”, seems unnecessary, but at least the arrangement is not near as bad as the previous “Try Me”.

There are a few tracks on here that James Brown fans will want to pick up, but almost any previous James Brown album is better than this one. Unfortunately, James will continue the rest of his career in less than stellar fashion, but fortunately, that will in no way tarnish the best of his early work.

PRINCE For You

Album · 1978 · Jazz Related RnB
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siLLy puPPy
PRINCE Rogers Nelson showed musical talent at a very early age and released several demos before this debut album FOR YOU which emerged in 1978. At this time he was only 17 and i have to say…. sounds like it. This album is a far cry from the masterpieces of “Purple Rain” and the gazillion hits that would follow, but for what this album isn’t, it has kernels of what PRINCE would become yet at this point anyone listening to this album at the time would have a hard time predicting that this strange dude with that funny falsetto would become one of the biggest stars in all of musical history.

This first release by “The Purple One” was a rather modest affair. There is R&B, disco and synth-funk. Pretty much standard affair for the day and improving on none of the greats of the day in even the slightest. The music is nice and catchy and if this was PRINCE’s only album ever to emerge then it might even be a little bit beyond OK, but as we all know the best was yet to come and come again over and over and over again.

This may be one of PRINCE’s lesser appreciated albums simply because it gets drowned in the sea of albums he has released over the years, yet there is something special about a debut album for me whether it is their swan song or not. It displays a time where the artist shows a unique potential (or not) and a portrait of their roots. That is definitely the case with PRINCE here. In all his reserved efforts there is a sense of something lurking beneath the surface ready to unleash itself on an unsuspecting world. The album? OK. I got to this well after being exposed to pretty much everything after, but there is a smattering going on here that points to something more albeit unperceivable at the time.

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.

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