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 | 24 hours caching

STEVIE WONDER Songs in the Key of Life Album Cover Songs in the Key of Life
STEVIE WONDER
4.72 | 11 ratings
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STEELY DAN Aja Album Cover Aja
STEELY DAN
4.61 | 24 ratings
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EARTH WIND & FIRE Gratitude Album Cover Gratitude
EARTH WIND & FIRE
4.88 | 5 ratings
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STEELY DAN Countdown to Ecstasy Album Cover Countdown to Ecstasy
STEELY DAN
4.40 | 19 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Fulfillingness' First Finale Album Cover Fulfillingness' First Finale
STEVIE WONDER
4.45 | 9 ratings
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CURTIS MAYFIELD Curtis/Live! Album Cover Curtis/Live!
CURTIS MAYFIELD
4.79 | 3 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Innervisions Album Cover Innervisions
STEVIE WONDER
4.36 | 14 ratings
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ISAAC HAYES Hot Buttered Soul Album Cover Hot Buttered Soul
ISAAC HAYES
4.37 | 8 ratings
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EARTH WIND & FIRE All 'n' All Album Cover All 'n' All
EARTH WIND & FIRE
4.29 | 8 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Talking Book Album Cover Talking Book
STEVIE WONDER
4.26 | 10 ratings
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SADE (HELEN FOLASADE ADU) Diamond Life Album Cover Diamond Life
SADE (HELEN FOLASADE ADU)
4.36 | 5 ratings
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EARTH WIND & FIRE That's the Way of the World Album Cover That's the Way of the World
EARTH WIND & FIRE
4.24 | 6 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

SLY5THAVE The Invisible Man : An Orchestral Tribute to Dr. Dre

Album · 2017 · Jazz Related RnB
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js
I have to admit that the idea of an ‘orchestral tribute to Dr Dre’ first hit me as some kind of joke along the lines of The Monkees play heavy metal, or Mozart goes reggae mon. It was hard to imagine the sparse hip-hop arrangements of Dr Dre in an orchestrated format, but Sly5thAve’s new album, “The Invisible Man, an Orchestrated Tribute to Dr Dre”, has certainly proved me wrong. In a year laden with highly creative artsy RnB albums, “The Invisible Man” has been able to stand out as one of the best for 2017. The combination of Dr Dre’s laid back grooves and Sly’s hip, slightly retro, orchestrations are an irresistible combination that may have you playing this one over and over.

Sly5thAve is actually Sylvester Uzoma Onyejaka II, a versatile saxophonist who also produces and doubles on a variety of instruments. His talents have brought him work with many including Prince, Maceo Parker, all of the Marsalis Brothers and many other top RnB, pop and jazz musicians. “The Invisible Man” is just Sly’s second full length album, but it sounds like the work of a seasoned veteran. Right off the bat these orchestrated soulful tracks may have you thinking Isaac Hayes and Quincy Jones, and there is some of that sound here, but even closer is the arranger that Dr Dre was fond of sampling from, David Axelrod. Sly’s use of pulsing steady rhythms often recall Axelrod’s sometimes processional sounding arrangements that could almost border on regal and militaristic in an almost campy sort of way. In that respect, another similar famous arranger comes to mind, and that’s George Martin, the exotica composer who also did arrangements for the Beatles, particularly the ‘Sgt Peppers’ album. Still, with the Dr Dre’s iconic beats and attitude going on, Sly’s orchestral creation stands in a world all its own.

The hip-hop world was all over this record when it came out, but the jazz world didn’t seem to take much notice, which is unfortunate because there is plenty here for a fan of contemporary jazz to like. Many of these tracks feature jazz solos by a variety of top notch musicians, for instance the burning guitar solo by Patrick Bailey on the hard driving “Curtis”, or Sly‘s Eddie Harris like electric sax ride on “The Jam Part III“. Although this album lists 23 total tracks, many of the tracks blend together to make just one song, such as the ultra funky string of tracks that start with “No Diggity”. For those who may be rapaphobic or raptose intolerant, although this is a Dr Dre tribute, there is no rapping on here. Meanwhile. others may want to use these tracks to back up some original free verse.

MICHAEL JACKSON Off The Wall

Album · 1979 · Jazz Related RnB
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js
During the 60s, Quincy Jones was one of the more successful jazz composers and arrangers in the business, creating a unique style that became the sound of American movie and TV themes, as well as background incidental music too. As the 70s developed, Quincy’s concise and economical approach didn’t jibe as well with the more excessive hippiefied era, and although his soundtracks were still happening, he no longer had the same impact anymore. In 1976 Jones hooked up with brand new RnB phenoms, The Brothers Johnson, and helped them mold a new lean and clean funk sound that pointed towards the future. A few years after this, the already rising star of Michael Jackson was showing even greater potential when he teamed up with his brother Randy to create a striking new dance hit with the song, “Shake Your Body Down to the Ground”, that brought new life to a somewhat dismal late 70s RnB/dance scene. Late 70s RnB radio had become dominated by a decaying disco scene that pumped out one bland and predictable track after another. The stage was now set for Quincy and Michael to team up and turn the world of commercial dance music inside out in a fire burst of creativity in the form of the album, “Off the Wall”.

As soon as the first track, “Don’t Stop till You get Enough”, opened, you could tell the days of boring thump thump thump disco music were on their way out. With this fresh new track we were given a melodic syncopated kick drum pattern surround by Latin and African percussion figures. Interlocking horn, string and guitar patterns sounded like a sophisticated big band, and over it all were Michael’s floating complex vocal arrangements. A new day had dawned indeed. The rest of side one is just one masterpiece after another with “Workin Day and Night” providing some of the hottest horn and guitar riffs since the heyday of James Brown, and “Rock with You” supplying something that hadn’t been heard of in dance music in a long while, an interesting melody and original chord changes. The quality drops a bit on side two, with the last two tracks not quite up to the rest of the album, but even those tracks could beat the competition of the day with the possible exception of Rick James and the occasional Funkadelic/Parliament track.

Almost forty years later, Quincy and Michael’s creation still stands as one of the top RnB, dance or pop albums of all time. Still, this album would not be the pinnacle of this duo’s efforts. That peak would come on the next album, “Thriller”, on which Jones and Jackson would take their creativity just one notch higher.

MIKE BURTON Say What?

Album · 2017 · Jazz Related RnB
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js
I am sure there are plenty of RnB fans who miss the golden age of the late 60s to mid 70s when artists like Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield wrote artistic music with deep challenging lyrics that tackled the issues of the day. There has been new hope recently as musicians such as Esperanza Spaulding, Robert Glasper and Thundercat have been bringing a much needed creativity and social consciousness to the world of RnB. Much of this new music comes from the LA scene, far from RnB’s roots in the deep south, but a new voice, Mike Burton, has come up from Jackson Mississiippi bringing that deep southern soul mixed with modern cosmopolitan elements and featuring profound and spiritual lyrics that take on many troubling issues. Mike is mostly known as a saxophonist who has worked with Jill Scott and others, but on this new album, “Say What”, he also takes control of the vocal mic so that he can bring his thoughtful lyrics to the table. The end result is one of the best RnB albums of recent times, as it features earthy tones from the past mixed with a modern sheen from the present amongst a spiritual background in southern gospel music.

That mix of hip-hop modern and funky traditional is a big part of the appeal on“Say What”. The vocoder enhanced vocals, and stuttering broken hip-hop beats carry the sound of today, while the gritty rhythm guitar and the New Orleans influence of the accompanying Good Times Brass Band are all very familiar to fans of the classic southern Staxx label sound. Jackson is just a short hop down the Mississippi River from Memphis, and this album is drenched in that Memphis/Mississippii Delta vibe.

Mike’s writing style is unique and often avoids cliché chord sequences. On tracks like ‘Pray” and “Walk”, modern harmonic progressions seem to spiral endlessly upwards reflecting the spiritual nature of the lyrics. On “Messin it Up” and “Sick and Tired” Burton presents hard funk rhythms powered with big brassy horn refrains. Songs such as “Come Back" and “Daddy’s Little Girl” deal with being a father, his lyrics are truly touching, but never cloy or overly sentimental. Mike does not shy away from the difficulties of being an African-American, but he does so in a way that should make any person feel included in his concerns. Do you miss that golden age of meaningful and artistic RnB, pick up “Say What” and you won’t have to anymore.

MARVIN GAYE What's Going On

Album · 1971 · Jazz Related RnB
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js
Although the term ‘Progressive RnB’ never really caught on the same way as ‘Progressive Rock’ did, what happened in the world of RnB in the early 70s was quite similar to what was happening in the rock and pop world at the same time. Influences from jazz, modern classical and psychedelia all converged on many RnB artists to push their creations to new heights. In the late 60s, albums by The Temptations such as “Puzzle People” and “Cloud Nine” began to open the door to further experimentation, meanwhile George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic machine was making some noise in the underground, as well as WAR, Mandrill and others, but the album that really made it possible for RnB artists to search and explore in a commercially successful way was Marvin Gaye’s “Whats Going On”.

This album almost didn’t happen at all. Gaye was a hit machine for Berry Gordy’s very lucrative Motown label with songs like “That’s the Way Love is” and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”, making sure his boss was one of the richest producers in the world of music. When Gordy first heard Gaye’s proposed single release of title tune, “Whats Going On”, he refused to release it, saying it was not commercial enough. Marvin countered with his own protest, refusing to record anymore songs unless Gordy allowed his ambitious project to continue. Barry finally relented, and in a rush of pent up energy, Gaye finished his album long masterpiece and released it to much critical acclaim and commercial success. In fact, to this day, many of the signature songs on this album are still played on the radio and elsewhere.

Compared to Gaye’s upbeat music that preceded this album, “Whats Going On” is dark and moody, there are no ‘love songs’, just songs about civil unrest, endless war in Vietnam, concern for the ecology and concern for the future of the children in a fast changing world. The entire album comes across like a suite, with one song segueing into another without a noticeable break. There is a strong jazz sensibility at work here, especially in the creative bass lines of Bob Babbit and James Jamerson, as well as the saxophone work of Eli Fountain. Familiar pop/blues chord progressions are uplifted with spiraling strings and wordless vocals, it sounds like Marvin wants to push his message up into the heavens in an appeal to God himself, who is also referenced frequently in the albums plaintive lyrics.

This album would definitely open some doors, Stevie Wonder soon followed with his own “Talking Book”, and later Earth Wind and Fire would take the world of RnB to all new heights. A classic album that still sounds modern and relevant today, “Whats Going On” was the peak of Gaye’s career, as well as a peak for the world of RnB and pop music in general.

URBANITY Urban Soul

Album · 2016 · Jazz Related RnB
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kev rowland
The collaboration between Albare and Phil Turcio started 27 years ago when Albert Dadon – aka Albare – was looking for a new pianist for his band. At the time, Phil had just turned 18. Albare recalls, “He was not even the youngest member of the band then; our drummer just turned 17.” “These guys sounded so good, it was a pleasure already to play with them.” Phil explains that he and Albare hear music in the same way, “Everything I throw at Albare comes back as if I would have played it myself.” Albare and Phil Turcio have now formed a new band with just the two of them, with Albare providing guitars and sitar, and Phil providing keyboards, piano and programming.

Each time I play this I think of George Benson, and the smooth jazz scene from the late Seventies. There is a strong relationship between the two musicians, with fluid soloing and harmonisation between the lead instruments, and the feeling is of two guys just relaxing and having fun with what they are doing. The stand out song is a cover, namely an emotional and delicate take on “Angie”, which almost deconstructs the original as it turns it into something very special indeed. It is a song I have always enjoyed, and I prefer this to the original, such is its power. Overall, this is a good album to wind down to at the end of the day, and although this isn’t my favourite form of jazz, they certainly do it well.

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JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

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