Soul Jazz

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Soul jazz is a subset of the hard bop genre and carries the hard bop tendency towards RnB and blues just a bit further. It was the original intention of JMA to list the soul jazz artists in hard bop, but the line was drawn at the bluesy B3 organ players such as Groove Holmes and Jack McDuff. Put simply, soul jazz is instrumental RnB or blues with a swing or funk beat topped with virtuoso jazz solos. You can also find soul jazz artists on JMA in the hard bop, funk jazz, and acid jazz genres.

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EDDIE HARRIS Excursions Album Cover Excursions
4.88 | 3 ratings
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JOHN PATTON Got a Good Thing Goin' Album Cover Got a Good Thing Goin'
4.83 | 3 ratings
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STANLEY TURRENTINE Blue Hour Album Cover Blue Hour
4.95 | 2 ratings
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JIMMY SMITH Got My Mojo Workin' Album Cover Got My Mojo Workin'
4.68 | 5 ratings
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JOHN SCOFIELD Hand Jive Album Cover Hand Jive
4.75 | 2 ratings
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LES MCCANN Swiss Movement (with Eddie Harris) Album Cover Swiss Movement (with Eddie Harris)
4.52 | 6 ratings
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JIMMY SMITH Root Down Album Cover Root Down
4.47 | 10 ratings
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REUBEN WILSON Blue Mode (aka Organ Talk) Album Cover Blue Mode (aka Organ Talk)
4.50 | 3 ratings
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CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! (aka V.I.P.-Jazz 3) Album Cover Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! (aka V.I.P.-Jazz 3)
4.37 | 6 ratings
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DR LONNIE SMITH Mama Wailer Album Cover Mama Wailer
4.50 | 2 ratings
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REUBEN WILSON Love Bug Album Cover Love Bug
4.50 | 2 ratings
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REUBEN WILSON The Sweet Life Album Cover The Sweet Life
4.50 | 2 ratings
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soul jazz Music Reviews


Album · 1962 · Soul Jazz
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Appearing in 1962, the album “On Time” comes fairly early in Les McCann’s career. Les and his crack rhythm section of drummer Ron Jefferson and bassist Leroy Vinnegar had already recorded a couple of successful albums that had established them as leaders in the new combination of jazz, gospel and blues that was being called ‘soul jazz’. This trio didn’t really need any help, but I suppose in an attempt to push things a little further, ace guitarist Joe Pass was asked to join the band and make it a quartet for the recording of “On Time”. Joe is usually known for his ability to navigate fast moving be-bop changes and similar technically demanding fare, but on this McCann opus, he settles into the band’s blues groove and makes an already exciting group just a bit better. So successful was Pass’ merger with the band that he would go on to record with them again after this album.

“On Time’ opens with the hard driving up tempo of the album’s title cut which establishes this bands musical forte, which has more to do with the funky soul of gospel and blues than jazz per se. Les does not play fleet bop lines, but instead plays those riffs that are well known to the church pianist. From here the album continues with mostly mid-tempo blues. “This for Doug” offers a little change up in that it is that rare blues tune in waltz time. Side two continues the party in fine form, the standard “It Could Happen to You” opens as a slow tempo ballad before the band picks up the beat half way through. The album closes with a surprise when they turn Miles’ well known relaxed cool classic “So What”, into a fast paced be-bop barn burner. If you like this sort of early 60s blues-jazz hybrid, “On Time” will not disappoint. This quartet has talent to burn as they put out an album that smokes from start to finish.

MIKE SPINRAD Mike Spinrad with Guido Fazio : Horns

Album · 2018 · Soul Jazz
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Mike Spinrad is a drummer in San Francisco who also writes original music and “Horns’ is his second CD release as a band leader. For this new project Spinrad decided to work with a horn led band, hence the title of the album. To help with this endeavor he enlisted tenor and flute player Guido Fazio, who supplies much of the horn arrangements as well as many stellar solos, plus Richard Conway on trumpet and flugelhorn, and on all but two cuts, Larry Stewart on baritone. Rounding out the band are Don Turney on piano and occasional B3, plus a rotating cast of talented bass players. On first impression, “Horns” recalls classic horn driven soul jazz artists such as David “Fathead” Newman, or the Adderly Brothers, but this album is much more than just that, with further listens you will start to hear the variety of styles that Spinrad is working with, plus his own original and modern nuances that he brings to these compositions and arrangements.

The album opens with the hard bop waltz of “Smarbar”, which is followed by the boogaloo funk of “Bette ‘n Hy”. Starting with track three, the hard driving bop of “Chaim”, Larry Stewart joins the band on baritone, which gives the rest of the cuts on the album a mini big band sound, plus a little extra boost in energy. “Shelia” is the ballad as it supplies the desired abstract pastel colors of today’s post bop sound. This track bears some resemblance to “All the Things You are Here”, especially towards the end of the song. On “Raul”, the band heads into Afro-Cuban territory while pianist Don Turney displays his skills with a driving rhythmic montuno that keeps the tune on time. Finishing up the CD, “Brooke” is a re-working of bop favorite “Cherokee”, “Manny” is California style Latin soul cha-cha, and “Texarkana” is up tempo swing blues.

This CD has grown on me over the past couple weeks, despite the immediate familiarity of many of the tracks, this album holds up well to repeat listens. What we have on “Horns” is very unpretentious party jazz executed with originality and freshness, while avoiding the predictable clichés.


Album · 1971 · Soul Jazz
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In the early 70s, soul jazz artists began picking up on the new funk styles of James Brown and Sly Stone, subsequently their music started moving closer to what was happening in the fusion scene. At this point in jazz history, the difference between soul jazz and fusion is not that great. Likewise, both genres were also picking up on the increased interest in musical styles from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. In 1971, soul jazz stalwart, David Newman, gave his reputation a boost when he took on some of the new modern influences of the times and released “Captain Buckles”, which featured hard driving funk as well as some Latin and Calypso rhythms too. More of an RnB artist than a jazz artist, still, Newman’s intense sax solos are held in high esteem by any jazz fan.

Side one of “Captain Buckles” opens with the energetic funk of the title cut, which is powered by drummer Bernard Purdie, possibly one of the most imitated and sampled drummers from the 70s, and he is also one of the main reasons why this album is so good. The rest of this side is taken with the aforementioned Calypso and Latin numbers, plus an obligatory reading of the Beatles’ “Something”. Even in the early 70s, soul jazz artists were still apt to include one possible radio hit on their album. Side two opens with the raging hard bop of “The Clincher”, which includes one of Newman’s best solos on the album. David follows that with a ballad reading of “I Didn’t Know What Time it Was”, which is a much better slow jam than the previous Beatles clunker. The ultra-funky “Negus” closes the album and features guitarist Eric Gales’ best solo. Overall “Captain Buckles” is one of David Newman’s better albums, and is mostly devoid of the sort of corniness that sometimes mars soul jazz albums.

JOCELYN MICHELLE Live at Viva Cantina!

Live album · 2018 · Soul Jazz
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Jocelyn Michelle is an under-rated Hammond B3 player who performs mostly in Hawaii, and occasionally in the LA area too. “Live at Viva Cantina” is just her second album, and as the title would suggest, this record was recorded live at a Mexican restaurant and music venue in LA. Although this album is live, you will hear very little crowd noise and no clinking of glasses, and the production is quite clean, very much like a studio recording. For her choice of material, Jocelyn reprises some originals from here previous studio album, as well as some crowd pleasing covers too. This is a live restaurant gig, and the choice of tunes reflects that as they cover well known pop hits such as “One Note Samba”, The Pink Panther Theme”, “Groovin” and a few more in this vein. The real musical substance on here though can be found in Jocelyn’s originals, which are all excellent, and really this would have been a better album if they had leaned more in that direction.

Michelle has a rather large band assembled here with two saxophones and two trumpets in addition to a guitar, bass and drums rhythm section. The top soloist is probably Jocelyn herself, who provides punchy rhythmic riffs that stay tight in the pocket, somewhat similar to Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff and Brian Auger. All the other soloists are good as well, with both saxophone players shining through with virtuoso RnB/jazz rides that can recall Grover Washington and Stanley Turrentine. This is a great CD for fans of current soul jazz, as well as people looking for a jazz album with more of an extroverted party vibe to it. With a fair amount of well known pop tunes on here, even non-jazz fans are apt to feel the groove.

As mentioned earlier, the preponderance of pop covers on here is understandable given that this is a live gig and Jocelyn and crew set out on purpose to record a ‘party’ album, but still, it would be great if Jocelyn would make an album of mostly originals, she is an excellent writer and really should think about utilizing those talents more.


Live album · 1972 · Soul Jazz
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“Check this Out” is yet one more in a seemingly endless supply of soul jazz records put out by “Brother’ Jack McDuff. Fortunately, in this case a vast quantity does not imply a drop off in quality, instead, despite how many records he put out, you can almost always count on McDuff for a worthwhile spin. “Check this Out” came out in 1972, which was the same year Jack released his wild funky, and somewhat experimental “Heatin System”. “Check” is not quite as out there as “System”, but there is still plenty of hot solos and well arranged tunes to make this one a worthwhile addition to your McDuff collection.

It’s a rather large group that Jack has assembled here, with three sax players providing a mini big band effect, plus congas and guitar, while McDuff supplies the bass on all but one cut via his B3 foot pedals. Side one kicks off with a wide open energetic blues based jam, followed by the well known ballad, “Georgia On My Mind”. Jack handles the melody on “Georgia”, while the horn players provide an interesting re-harmonization of the familiar chord changes. This side closes with the modern funk sounds of “Soul Yodel”, on which Jack’s foot work is replaced by the electric bass of Richard Davis, who supplies a syncopated groove reminiscent of WAR’s “Slipping into Darkness”.

Side two opens with an unexpected original 60s flavored optimistic art pop song with the tongue-in-cheek title of “Middle Class Folk Song”. This one bears some resemblance to the Carpenter’s “Sing a Song”, which is not a bad thing. This is followed by another up tempo hard bop groove before the album closes out with some classic soul jazz slow burn blues. All throughout this album there are plenty of good solos. With three sax players on board, its not always clear who is playing what, but most likely the hottest sax solos probably come from Jack’s longtime sidekick, “Red" Holloway. If McDuff’s burning solos sound familiar, its because he more or less invented the solo language of the B3 as it was used by many 70s rock and RnB players from Gregg Rollie to Jon Lord, and just about everyone else too. We often hear of Jimmy Smith as a major B3 influence, but his high speed bop/blues lines did not adapt to rock as well as McDuff’s grittier hard punchy riffs. Plus McDuff often had a bit of overdrive distortion to his sound, which added to his rock appeal.

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Artists with Soul Jazz release(s)


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