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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LES MCCANN Swiss Movement (with Eddie Harris) Album Cover Swiss Movement (with Eddie Harris)
4.74 | 6 ratings
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ROY AYERS Live at Montreux Jazz Festival Album Cover Live at Montreux Jazz Festival
4.95 | 2 ratings
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EDDIE HARRIS Exodus to Jazz Album Cover Exodus to Jazz
4.95 | 2 ratings
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LOU DONALDSON Mr. Shing-A-Ling Album Cover Mr. Shing-A-Ling
4.95 | 2 ratings
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STANLEY TURRENTINE Blue Hour Album Cover Blue Hour
4.95 | 2 ratings
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EDDIE HARRIS Excursions Album Cover Excursions
4.73 | 3 ratings
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REUBEN WILSON Blue Mode Album Cover Blue Mode
4.73 | 3 ratings
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JOHN PATTON Got a Good Thing Goin' Album Cover Got a Good Thing Goin'
4.72 | 3 ratings
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CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Album Cover Mercy, Mercy, Mercy!
4.66 | 4 ratings
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MELODIA  ENSEMBLE Labyrinth (Лабиринт) Album Cover Labyrinth (Лабиринт)
5.00 | 1 ratings
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JIMMY SMITH Root Down Album Cover Root Down
4.40 | 8 ratings
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DAVE PIKE Noisy Silence - Gentle Noise Album Cover Noisy Silence - Gentle Noise
4.48 | 3 ratings
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soul jazz Music Reviews

HERBIE MANN The Best Of Herbie Mann

Boxset / Compilation · 1970 · Soul Jazz
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“The Best of Herbie Mann” is a collection that was put out by Atlantic in 1970 that covered Mann’s years with them during the 60s. This was probably the height of Herbie’s popularity and found him playing a lot of RnB/jazz, as well as Latin Jazz. The focus of this LP is Herbie’s most popular songs, and there are some good cuts on here, but overall this is a fairly uneven record. “Comin Home Baby” is probably his most popular song ever and they put two live versions on here that take up about half the record. Its a fun groovy beatnik number in typical Herbie Mann style, but did we really need two versions.

The rest of the album consists of Herbie’s classic “Memphis Underground”, the high energy RnB of “Philly Dogg” and two Latin numbers. Of the two Latin cuts, “This Little Girl of Mine” is a fun blast of sunshine, but its hard to imagine why they included “A Man and a Woman”. First of all the song has been played to death by others and Herbie barely solos on this one either. Of the two versions of “Comin Home”, the first one is cool and relaxed and the second has a bigger band and a stronger Latin flavor. On both versions Herbie turns in excellent lengthy solos.

The best thing about this record is that you can find it in used record stores for very cheap. Its not a bad record for someone looking for a first try at Herbie’s music, and could be useful to a DJ looking for a vinyl version of “Memphis Underground”, but there are certainly better Herbie Mann records out there.

RICHARD "GROOVE" HOLMES Jazz Milestone Series

Boxset / Compilation · 1966 · Soul Jazz
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The “Jazz Milestone Series” was put out by the Pacific records label and was designed to showcase a “best of” series for their various artists. This Groove Holmes album covers the early part of his career when he recorded and performed in LA during the early 60s. The music on here is what we would expect from Holmes, blues based jazz played in swing time, the very early roots of the soul jazz sound. When it comes to the B3 greats, Jimmy Smith has the high speed licks and McGriff and McDuff have the hard edged funk, but Groove Holmes is the master of the swing and the hard driving B3 bass pedals. Most of these cuts are pretty solid, with no particular duds, nor many particular stand-outs either. Side one centers around shorter RnB/gospel flavored tunes, while side two stretches out and gets a little jazzier. Album closer, “Comin’ thru the Apple”, is probably the best with a high speed romp based around the Parker tune of a similar name.

Holmes’ playing sounds great throughout, and there are also many stellar guests including Joe Pass, Ben Webster and Les McCann on piano. That double keyboard sound is real effective on the gospel and RnB flavored numbers. If you are a fan of the early 60s B3 jazz sound and you see this at your local used record shop for a reasonable price, go ahead and pick it up, there are not a lot of surprises on here, but sometimes that’s a good thing.

HERBIE MANN Memphis Underground

Album · 1969 · Soul Jazz
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Herbie Mann was one of the most prolific jazz artists ever and was never one to shy away from trying out the latest trends and styles so that he could record yet one more album. Sometime in the late 60s, in between recording with Middle Eastern musicians and Jamaican musicians, Mann took part of his touring band over to Memphis to record with some local studio RnB musicians. The resultant album, “Memphis Underground” is a decent late 60s RnB instrumental album, but like so much of Herbie Mann’s output, its catchy and hip, but nothing remarkable.

Its an interesting bunch of soloists from his touring band that Mann brought to the session. Vibraphonist Roy Ayers, jazz-rock shredder Larry Coryell and oddest of all, the ear-bleeding noise damage of guitarist Sonny Sharrock, always an odd fit with Herbie’s groovy good-times beatnik vibe, but also a welcome difference too. Sonny is kept in check for most of the album, until the end of “Hold on I’m Comin” where he breaks out his slide guitar fuselage for some noise that I’m sure had some unsuspecting listeners in shock. Most of the songs on here are pretty good except for the lengthy workout on the old anthem for the north during the American Civil War, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. I’m sure there was some cultural significance to having a bunch of southerners play the northern anthem, but as a piece of music it’s a bore.

One of the best cuts on here is Herbie’s one original. “Memphis Underground”, an excellent groover that mixes laid back Memphis RnB with Jamaican reggae. Of the different soul covers, “Chain of Fools” hit’s the best groove and holds it. If you like Herbie Mann, or this sort of retro 60s proto-acid jazz, you’ll probably want to get this.

DOC BAGBY Battle Of The Organs (with Luis Rivera)

Album · 1959 · Soul Jazz
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If you have ever dug through a stack of records at a thrift store looking for a hidden gem, then you’ll know that you end up looking at about a million over sold 70s albums by the likes of Elton John and Seals and Crofts before you might get lucky and hit an obscure garish tacky album cover like “Battle of the Organs”. Bizarre thrown together cheap album covers like this are a beacon to record collectors looking for that odd bit of exotica. No doubt the cover of this record is priceless kitsch, but it also helps that the music isn’t bad either.

Although he never became a household name, Doc Bagby was very busy in the music industry, particularly in the 50s and 60s, as a session musician, arranger, bandleader and whatever else was necessary. Not only did he participate in many collectable exotic instrumental RnB and novelty rock records, but he also served as Sonny Stitt’s organist at a time when there were very few jazz organ players. Some of the records he cut with Stitt, on which they mixed jazz with blues played with a tenor sax plus B3 organ, became a blueprint for the coming soul jazz fad. Side two of “Battle of the Organs” belongs to Luis Rivera, who was a long time lounge organist in the Los Angelas area. Although Barby’s side is better musically, Rivera’s bold plaid jacket helps make this album cover a kitsch masterpiece.

Bagby’s side of the record is pretty solid old school blues-jazz played with your typical organ trio of B3, tenor sax and drums. Some of these tracks are fairly funky in a proto-soul jazz kind of way with “Grinding” being one of the stand out cuts. Luis Rivera’s side is a little more cheezy with somewhat similar blues based music, but with a much more exaggerated and hammy approach that was typical of the lounge players in this era. His band makeup is similar to Bagby’s, but his tenor player uses old school over-done swoops in his playing, plus a deep reverb sound typical of 50s corny instrumental rock records. Jazz fan will probably find the Bargby side of “Battle of the Organs” to be of more interest, but the collector of odd exotica will probably find much to appreciate on both sides of this wonderful piece of vinyl.


Album · 1968 · Soul Jazz
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“Welcome Home” isn’t one of Holmes’ best albums, but on the other hand, its not near as commercial as some of his later efforts. Basically you get a mix of bluesy jazz and RnB pop covers on here, not far from your typical 60s soul jazz side. The album opens strong with the swingin “Groovin Time”. When it comes to the masters of the B3, Jimmy Smith may have the high speed licks, and Brother Jack McDuff and Jimmy McGriff may have the funky RnB, but no one swings like Groove Holmes. Side one closes out nicely with the soulful RnB of “Oklahoma Toad” and a mid-tempo swing blues called “Upward Bound”.

Side two also starts strong with the funky RnB of “The Madison Time”, but then the album looses its drive and closes out with four pop tunes of varying quality with Marvin Gayes’ “Sunday Mornin” being the best, and the theme from “The Odd Couple” being the cheesiest. I think fans of Groove Holmes and fans of 60s soul jazz would be happy with this record, you have three or four great cuts on here, and even the pop tunes are well done and plenty soulful. Another plus on here is the great recorded sound and production, its all a classic 60s analog vibe without a trace of 70s fuzak or smooth jazz.

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