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 | 60 min. caching

STEVIE WONDER Innervisions Album Cover Innervisions
STEVIE WONDER
4.73 | 14 ratings
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STEELY DAN Aja Album Cover Aja
STEELY DAN
4.65 | 23 ratings
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EARTH WIND & FIRE Gratitude Album Cover Gratitude
EARTH WIND & FIRE
4.93 | 5 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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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
4.79 | 5 ratings
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EARTH WIND & FIRE All 'n' All Album Cover All 'n' All
EARTH WIND & FIRE
4.67 | 7 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Talking Book Album Cover Talking Book
STEVIE WONDER
4.59 | 10 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Fulfillingness' First Finale Album Cover Fulfillingness' First Finale
STEVIE WONDER
4.58 | 9 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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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 | 11 ratings
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RAY CHARLES Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music Album Cover Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
RAY CHARLES
4.48 | 3 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

MADHOUSE 8

Album · 1987 · Jazz Related RnB
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siLLy puPPy
MADHOUSE was a pseudonym of the late great purple funk master Prince who was much more famous for dominating the pop charts and cranking out one R & B hit after another in the 80s and 90s. However it is little known is that all throughout the 80s, the purple one was quite interested in releasing an all instrumental jazz-funk album that resulted from extra tracks that were created from countless other recording sessions. Originally intended to be released as a band named The Flesh with an eponymous album title, the idea was scrapped and it was modified to MADHOUSE. Two albums were released. The first one titled 8 and the second 16. While the second album was more of a band effort with contributions from Sheila E, Matt Fink and Levi Seacer Jr, on 8 it was basically a one man show with PRINCE handling all instrument duties except for the sax and flute parts which were covered by Eric Leeds. There are 8 tracks and each one is simply titled 1, 2, 3 etc.

8 is somewhat of a mellow lounge lizard mid tempo affair and never really rocks out. Think Weather Report and you’re getting close. The music generally consists of a steady drum beat with the jazzified rolls accenting cadences accompanied by a thick atmospheric synthesized sound swooping around in the background. PRINCE shows off his funk chops with sinewy bass riffs and masterful piano playing techniques. While the music flows freely and doesn’t get into the complexities of highly adventurous jazz-fusion bands such as Return To Forever, there are little outbursts of syncopation and familiar jazzy riffs with the funk features never far from the dominating flow of things. Although this was a PRINCE dominated album, this was a band in a live setting and they actually opened up for PRINCE himself and donned Godfather type costumes that added a gansta imagery to their persona.

I’m amazed at how i’ve missed this one in the past being somewhat buried under the bulk of the gazillion albums PRINCE released during his truncated life. This one offers a a glimpse into the purple one’s deeper musical appreciation into more progressive arenas with jazz dominating his R & B soundscapes. However well done MADHOUSE 8 is, it still lacks a certain distinguishing originality and merely proves PRINCE was capable of musical styles beyond the funky pop hits he was churning out in the 80s. The emphasis is more on the pop side than the jazz despite those elements popping up in impressive outbursts from time to time. After all is said and done i would prefer if there were more upbeat tracks and that really let it all loose. Everything on 8 seems a little reserved and a tad too easy listening oriented for its own good and could easily be tagged with the oft loathed “smooth jazz” tag. Still though, MADHOUSE 8 is a decent listen that all PRINCE fans should acquaint themselves with.

JEFF BECK Loud Hailer

Album · 2016 · Jazz Related RnB
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js
You have to admire an artist who can keep changing and challenging themselves, even late in their career. After decades of fusion and instrumental rock albums, Beck has thrown us a serious left turn curve here with the recent “Loud Hailer”. Its as if Beck has discovered political punk rock 40 years after the fact, but its never too late to try something new as “Loud Hailer” turns out to be one of the hottest and most emotionally charged albums of Beck’s very successful and lengthy career. The way this album came about is interesting in itself, apparently Jeff was at a party, thrown by friend Roger Taylor, at which the ‘entertainment’ was the noisy post-punk RnB of vocalist Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg. Jeff was so impressed with what he heard that he invited them to help make his new album, and also enlisted their producer, Fillipo Cimatti.

Not much from Jeff Beck’s past could prepare long time fans for this new album. Although Jeff is well known for his virtuoso guitar solos, there is very little of that on here, instead the emphasis is on Rosie Bones and her angry and passionate political musings. Beck’s supporting guitar work is rough and bluesy, drawing heavily on rootsy Missippii delta riffs that are turned into massive industrial sledge hammers via Fillipo Cimatti’s very modern and bigger than life production. Although the sound on here is thoroughly modern, the rawness of the music recalls classic hell raisers like Iggy Pop, the MC5 and early Funkadelic.

Some have been critical of Rosie’s lyrics, possibly searching for something more eloquent and definitive, but great rock lyrics are never about surety, instead the random energy of doubt, frustration, and confusion have been the hallmark of rock’s passion since the early days of ‘My G..g..g..generation". Along with her anti-’new order’ anarcho political lyrics, Rosie also sings about current vacuous pop culture, difficult relationships, the price we pay in pursuit of carnal pleasure, and some hope for the future. It helps that Rosie is a great singer who can veer from punky raps to sweet melodies and anything else in between. The icing on the cake is Fillipo Cimatti’s massive industrial strength production. Jeff Beck’s guitar has never sounded so huge and destructive, and the beats supply the crushing blows to back it all up.

Those looking for Jeff Beck’s fusion guitar playing best pass on this one, but if you are looking for raw angry poetic gut level rock/RnB that combines the best of John Lennon, Iggy Pop, Curtis Mayfield, Curt Cobain and Black Flag, then you have to come to the right place. “Loud Hailer” will be one of the best rock records to come out this year. Put this in the car and turn it up loud and I bet people will get out of your way, this music is an unstoppable tidal wave.

EARTH WIND & FIRE That's the Way of the World

Album · 1975 · Jazz Related RnB
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js
Although as the 80s dragged on, they eventually became a talented, yet sometimes bland pop group, this was not how Earth Wind and Fire started. Many would be surprised to know that the roots of this group go back to Chicago’s avant-garde AACM, and their first album was the soundtrack to the outsider classic, “Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song”, on which EW&F played furious psychedelic fusion in the style of Herbie’s Sextet. After this rather obscure beginning, founder Maurice White decided to keep the creativity intact, but also aim for some radio play too. With all this in mind, EW&F grew to be a powerhouse in the world of RnB, fusion, rock and pop during the 70s, and many would agree that they hit their first major peak with the 1975 studio masterpiece, “That’s the Way of the World”.

In the mid 70s, no other RnB or rock band carried as much pure talent as EW&F, their horn section could outplay many jazzers, their rhythm section could hold their own against WAR, Santanna or Weather Report, vocally they took arrangements to new heights in harmony and range, and finally, their compositions were modern, complex and way ahead of the field. Throughout the 70s, EW&F’s compositional approach was more influential on fusion artists than most other jazz artists. All through “That’s the Way”, EW&F tops driving syncopated African rhythms with floating abstract harmonies that recall Ellington and Debussy.

Almost every song on here is a classic, with only one sore thumb, the rather cliché ballad, “All About Love”. Modernist ballads with soaring harmonies were EW&F’s trademark, so its hard to understand how this less than stellar cut made the grade, but its all made up when it is followed by a short and attractively bizarre synth instrumental. For fans who already like this album, you need to check out the album “Gratitude”, on which the band plays these songs live and takes their mix of Ellington, Beatles, Stevie Wonder and Ohio Players, to new levels. As mentioned earlier, as the 80s dragged into the 90s and beyond, EW&F, much like their musical compadres Chicago and Genesis, became more wind and earth, and much less fire.

MAGMA Merci

Album · 1984 · Jazz Related RnB
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siLLy puPPy
Wow! Is this MAGMA or Earth, Wind & Fire? Christian Vander, are you there somewhere?!! Did the Kobaians beam you all back up to your planet? Or did they implant those dreaded disco soul chips in you again. What can we think of the most hated album in the MAGMA discography. After the excellent run of originality and channeling of otherworldly forces that lasted from their debut in 1970 to “Üdü Wüdü’ in 1976, it seems even advanced technology could not help the Kobaians hold back the backlash that dethroned progressive leaning music of the early 70s. While some bands like King Crimson were wise enough to call it a day before the great shift, others who stuck around found themselves watering down their output album by album, whittling away their loyal fan bases and becoming shallow caricatures of their innovative glory years.

Even the Kobains succumbed to these pressures as heard on the watered down “Attahk” in 1978, add to that the financial pressures of operating such a huge number of musicians on board with an ever chaining cast of members and it’s really not hard to imagine the temptation to dummy down the innovations and go for the gold in the highly profitable pop music world of the 80s. Perhaps a good idea at the time but considering this is a whole different band of musicians on board (at least 25!), Vander could have had the decency to at least release this under a different moniker that wouldn’t tarnish the image of one of the 70s’ most unique forces in the prog world. After six years of inactivity the album was a hodgepodge of tracks recorded throughout the early 80s and at this point Vander was bored with the whole MAGMA thing anyway and after the release of MERCI would suspend activities with the band and focus on his jazz-fusion oriented Offering albums.

“Call From The Dark” begins the album and after a few tinkles of some strings and immediately begins what sounds like something you would hear on a disco soul album around 1979 leaving a first time listener accustomed to all the zeuhlisciousness of previous MAGMA offerings totally bewildered and just a few notes away from pumping out “Boogie Wonderland.” While the music itself is perfectly decent for that type of sound, complete with beautiful vocals, a horn section to die for and a nice booty shakin’ rhythmic section, it’s like whoa!!! Is this MAGMA? WTF?

The second track “Otis” is less danceable and at least has a faint trace of the vocal trade offs of Vander and female vocalists from the past, but this song is particularly weak although perhaps acceptable for aging Kobaians in nursing homes or doctor’s offices. Vander’s screams in the middle sound like a mating cat and totally out of step with this mellow repetitive soul music. “Do The Music” is a rather strange little track as it sounds like zeuhl is battling it out with disco leaving the listener with no clear winner but admittedly a unique experiment that does make me think of going to the disco on Kobaia! I mean, they need to get a little light now and again too! “Otis (ending)” is a gospel sounding organ track with Vander screeching. Hmmm. No comment.

The one long track on here “Eliphas Levi” is the anomaly. It actually feels more like the zeuhl music we were expecting albeit more serene, pacified and stripped down in both instrumentation and feel. It does however have those ratcheting vocal deliveries that build in repetition accompanied by piano and percussion. This one is actually pretty enjoyable although very much on simmer as opposed to the full intense pyroclastic flow MAGMA usually delivers as the track drags on for over eleven minutes and feels like it never gets up to expected speed. The vocals are quite pleasant though and this is probably the best track on board and has a pleasant complex interchange at the end.

The album ends with the appropriately titled “The Night We Died” suggesting a now neutered MAGMA calling it a day and throwing in the towel. This is basically a sombre piano ballad with the Kobain females singing in unison. Overall i end with the same impression as i began. WTF? This would be perfectly good music for the most part for a Motown act trying to revive their career although a little unfocused but this MAGMA! Those who are held to a higher standard of complexity and innovative incremental progression as well as a higher energy level. This album is too mellow for its own good with the most energetic track sounding like a Michael Jackson B-side with Earth, Wind & Fire backing it up. Nothing on here is bad per se but for a band that carved its own niche in music and continued to ratchet it up album by album, this is surely a let down. After hearing this, it’s very hard to believe they would come back stronger than ever 20 years down the road.

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.)

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JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

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