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.

soul jazz top albums

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STANLEY TURRENTINE Blue Hour Album Cover Blue Hour
STANLEY TURRENTINE
4.89 | 3 ratings
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LES MCCANN Les McCann & Eddie Harris : Swiss Movement Album Cover Les McCann & Eddie Harris : Swiss Movement
LES MCCANN
4.66 | 8 ratings
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EDDIE HARRIS Excursions Album Cover Excursions
EDDIE HARRIS
4.73 | 4 ratings
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JOHN PATTON Got a Good Thing Goin' Album Cover Got a Good Thing Goin'
JOHN PATTON
4.69 | 4 ratings
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JIMMY SMITH Got My Mojo Workin' Album Cover Got My Mojo Workin'
JIMMY SMITH
4.60 | 6 ratings
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JIMMY SMITH Root Down Album Cover Root Down
JIMMY SMITH
4.48 | 11 ratings
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GENE HARRIS Gene Harris And The Three Sounds : Live At The 'It Club' Album Cover Gene Harris And The Three Sounds : Live At The 'It Club'
GENE HARRIS
4.75 | 2 ratings
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JOHN SCOFIELD Groove Elation! Album Cover Groove Elation!
JOHN SCOFIELD
4.50 | 6 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)
CANNONBALL ADDERLEY
4.40 | 12 ratings
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JOHN SCOFIELD Hand Jive Album Cover Hand Jive
JOHN SCOFIELD
4.54 | 3 ratings
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REUBEN WILSON Blue Mode (aka Organ Talk) Album Cover Blue Mode (aka Organ Talk)
REUBEN WILSON
4.50 | 3 ratings
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EDDIE HARRIS Exodus to Jazz (akaThe Soul Of Eddie Harris) Album Cover Exodus to Jazz (akaThe Soul Of Eddie Harris)
EDDIE HARRIS
4.50 | 3 ratings
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My Ship
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WILLIE JONES III
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Good Trouble
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MATT WILSON
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Over and over
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TONY MONACO
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Beyond Nostalgia
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AKIKO TSURUGA
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soul jazz Music Reviews

TONY MONACO Over and over

Album · 2024 · Soul Jazz
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js
Back in the 60s and 70s, Hammond B3 soul jazz was a gateway into the jazz world for many RnB and rock fans since so many rock/RnB bands had organ players who brought their soul jazz riffs to a larger rock oriented public. Greg Rollie, Billy Preston, Jon Lord and Greg Allman were just some of the rockers whose solos reflected their interest in the jazz B3 greats they emulated. Unfortunately the B3 and soul jazz fell out of favor during the synthesizer and Rhodes dominated fusion years, kind of ironic since soul jazz was the original fusion, but lo and behold, in the past couple decades soul jazz has staged an unlikely comeback and the sound of the B3 is back on the jazz air waves and nightclubs.

Tony Monaco is a big part of this B3 revival as he has cut 13 albums since 2000 and is still going strong. “Over and Over” is his latest release and it reflects the sort of diversity one can expect from a good soul jazz record. High energy hard bop is represented by “One for Pat Martino” and “Ready Set Go”, and Latin grooves come with “My Lil Rosie Girl” and “Sailboat”. The rest of the album features funk and hip-hop rhythms topped by album closer “Uprooted” which is a dead ringer for a JB’s track, complete with Jimmy Nolan style chicken scratching.

Tony lists the usual B3 suspects as influences, Jimmy McGriff, Groove Holmes, Jack McDuff etc, but probably the influence that shines through the most is Jimmy Smith. Jimmy always had a little more bebop to his playing and less RnB riffing, and Tony’s playing reflects that influence. This should come as no surprise as Tony studied with Smith for several years and has performed at Smith’s club as well. Guitarist Zakk Jones has a contemporary John Schofield influenced sound in which RnB, hard bop and blues blend seamlessly. On the album closer he goes distorted jazz rock style recalling Mike Stern’s work with Miles Davis. Reggie Jackson is the funky drummer that drives this trio as they offer a non-stop joy ride with no dud tracks.

JOE ALTERMAN Joe Alterman Plays Les McCann : Big Mo & Little Joe

Album · 2023 · Soul Jazz
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Carmel
Remember when jazz was as much about mentorship as it was about music? Joe Alterman certainly does. His tribute to Les McCann is a compelling example of mentorship, friendship, and timeless sounds. The Atlanta-based pianist's offering, "Joe Alterman Plays Les McCann: Big Mo & Little Joe," released on August 11, 2023, is a nostalgic nod to McCann's musical genius and a modern reinterpretation of his works.

McCann, a legend in his own right, was known for his expansive ensemble works. Here, Alterman condenses the vast soundscapes of McCann to an intimate trio of piano, bass (Kevin Smith), and drums (Justin Chesarek). The result? A tight-knit sound that retains the expansive feel of McCann's originals but with an added intensity and focus. In the process, Alterman breathes fresh life into lesser-known tracks that followed the iconic McCann's "Compared To What."

"Gone On And Get That Church" is steeped in gospel roots. There's an undeniable soulfulness, transporting listeners straight to a sunlit Sunday morning church service. Smith's bass and Chesarek's drums provide a driving backdrop to Alterman's rhythmically driving improvisation.

"Someday We'll Meet Again" carries a funky rhythm. Alterman's agile technique remains ever at the service of his expressive musicality. His soloing – built on rich bluesy ideas – speaks to his mastery and reverence for McCann's gospel blues influence.

"Ruby Jubilation" brings us a gospel swing that feels so right, with the trio's chemistry shining bright. Smith's bass line, undulating and assertive, complements Chesarek's dynamic drumming. Alterman's expressive touch on the keys here hints at a depth and versatility that's simply enthralling. Can I get a witness?

The choice of instrumentation pays homage to the quintessential jazz trio. Gospel influences, rich rhythmic textures, and the unmistakable touch of Alterman on the keys weave a tale of friendship, nostalgia, and spirituality. The impeccable recording quality, courtesy of Trammell Starks and the mastering finesse of Dave Nelson and Marlon Patton, ensures that every nuance is warmly captured.

This album chronicles a decade-long relationship between two jazz stalwarts. As the tracks flow, so do the tales of mentorship and camaraderie. Alterman's relationship with McCann comes through the music as deeply personal, making this tribute stand out from countless others.

While “Joe Alterman Plays Les McCann: Big Mo & Little Joe” induces us to reflect on the outcomes of jazz education's shift to academic institutions, this album beckons us back to an era where mentorship was intimate and deeply personal. It evokes memories of dimly lit bars, impromptu jam sessions, and life lessons intricately woven through every note and rhythm, handed down from master to apprentice.

In "Joe Alterman Plays Les McCann: Big Mo & Little Joe," Alterman reminds us that mentored jazz tells stories, evokes emotions, and bridges generations.

TOWNER GALAHER Towner Galaher Organ Trio Live

Live album · 2023 · Soul Jazz
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js
Although it was considered a musical anachronism during the 1970s and up to the early part of this century, the classic Hammond B3 jazz trio has been making a big comeback lately. Just recently we have seen saxophonist Anthony E Nelson release his tribute to the genre, and now that has been followed by “Towner Gallaher Organ Trio Live”, by … you guessed it, the Towner Gallaher Organ Trio. Towner Gallaher is a veteran drummer and music educator who has been working the NYC scene since 1986. The other members of the group include Lonnie Gasperini on Hammond B3 and Marvin Horne on guitar. The communication and telepathy among the band members is palatable as they have been jamming together for 14 years. This album is a live recording and the band worked without a set list, just Towner calling out tunes and the band tearing into them without any rehearsal. Every song on here is a first take, except for “Fever”.

Lots of rhythmic variety on here as the trio grooves on hard bop, swing, funk, RnB, jazz waltz, and that classic standby of the soul jazz crowd, boogaloo. Towner has studied New Orleans rhythm with Ricky Sebastian, and that second line sound permeates many of the tunes. Galaher usually records his own original material, but for this one he went for classic soul jazz songs by folks like Dr Lonnie Smith, Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith and Lou Donaldson, plus five pieces by Gasperini in classic soul jazz style including one tribute to Jimmy McGriff. If you are a fan of 60s soul jazz, you will not be disappointed in this album, in fact, even the production and overall sound is totally lacking in fake digital sheen, and that is a good thing. All the performers are great, but Horne in particular brings some very unique approaches and original ideas on his instrument. In the CD liner notes, Towner relates: “What these guys bring to the table … grit, grease, heartfelt blues feeling and … a whole lotta soul!!! … cannot be learned out of any book or at any music school. Enjoy!”

ART BLAKEY Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers : Soul Finger

Album · 1965 · Soul Jazz
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Mssr_Renard
A curious album, as it features both Hubbard and Morgan on trumpet. One would expect a lot of fireworks, but instead it's a rather tame album. Does that make it a bad album? No, not in my opinion. This one was released by Limelight and not Blue Note, and because of that it is a rather obscure release. In that sense that I did not even know of its existence.

There are some pleasant suprises on this record like the soprano saxophone of Lucky Thompson on the third track, wich is a played as a quartet (Blakey, Hicks, Sproles and Thompson). It is also a composition by Thompson. So it's kind of at odds on this album, but nevertheless a wonderful song.

Other important things about this album is, that is the last one to feauture Lee Morgan and it is also Gary Bartz's recording debut.

There are a lot of releases after this record, but the recordings are of earlier dates. This album is more of a transitionairy album, where Blakey and the Jazz Messengers make kind of bland albums (at least, the ones I heard of), until the Marsalis-brothers joined the band. Then the fire is back.

Soul Finger sure is a record to search for, Hubbard and Morgan together on trumpet is just a treat. Just listen to the groovy Freedom Monday to get a taste.

CURTIS FULLER Smokin'

Album · 1972 · Soul Jazz
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Mssr_Renard
Although the line-up to this album is a great line-up (featuring hardboppers Cedar Walton and Billy Higgins amongst others), the aim of this album is mainstream funk.

It is a pleasant album, with some great solos, some nice electric guitar by Ted Dunbar, some funky and swinging grooves by Higgins, but it lacks a certain something.

Fuller tries hard here to make a mainstream-record, even the label is called mainstream, and the compositions in fact are not that bad, but somehow I don't like the overuse of the electric piano (courtesy of Cedar Walton) on this album. Also the electric bass is used on one to many songs.

Especially the first song drags on for too long, without really going anywhere. Fuller had made so much better records, as a leader or with the Jazztet / Jazz Messengers.

I do like the solos: trumpet by Bill Hardman, trombone, saxes by Jimmy Heath and guitar by Ted Dunbar. The songs on the B-side are more hardboppish, but are mostly ruined by the electric bass. The purist jazz-song is Stella By Starlight with acoustic bass and acoustic piano, and some magnificent soloing by Fuller. A real treat!

As a jazzfunk album it is okay, somewhat reminescent of what Nucleus was putting out these days. But there are already so many of these jazzrock/softfunk albums, that it almost sounds too easylistening for me.

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Artists with Soul Jazz release(s)

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