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

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

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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JOHN SCOFIELD Groove Elation! Album Cover Groove Elation!
JOHN SCOFIELD
4.50 | 6 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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HERBIE MANN Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty Album Cover Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty
HERBIE MANN
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)
CANNONBALL ADDERLEY
4.38 | 8 ratings
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REUBEN WILSON The Sweet Life Album Cover The Sweet Life
REUBEN WILSON
4.50 | 2 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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Blue Keys
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Reboot
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Everybody Say Yeah!
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Blue
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Wouldn’t Be Here Without You
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K.BYE
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New Sky
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Diversitonic
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Blue Vision
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Four Brothers
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Standards and My Songs
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soul jazz Music Reviews

GRANT GEISSMAN Blooz

Album · 2022 · Soul Jazz
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Grant Geissman has recorded a lot of albums during his busy career, but never one quite like “Blooz”. Geissman has always been a fan of the blues but this is the first album he has recorded featuring the genre. Its not really a ‘pure blues’ album, or as Grants says himself, “ The album is called “Blooz” because its my take on the blues. It’s a fairly wide interpretation, and not always traditional.” So with that in mind, its no surprise we find many variations on the blues featuring influences from jazz, Latin rock, rockabilly, rhumba, boogaloo and more. A rotating cast of musicians are featured here, and many you have probably heard of before such as Tom Scott, Randy Brecker, Robben Ford and Joe Bonamassa. In many ways this may seem like a guitar player’s album, with Grant listing which vintage guitar he is using on each track, but horns and keyboards, especially the B3, all add their own colors.

“Carlos En Siete” is Latin rock in 7/4 time and is Grant’s tribute to Carlos Santana. Geissman’s solo on this one reflects the influence Carlos has on Grant’s playing. “Rage Cage is a rock boogie in the style of ZZ Top, with Jim Cox’s B3 solo taking the jam into soul jazz territory. “Preach” and “Fat Back” sound like classic 60’s Blue Note with Randy Brecker adding his horn to the former, and Tom Scott adding his saxophone to the latter. “One G and Two J’s” has a Bo Diddley beat and features a three guitar lineup when Grant is joined by Josh Smith and Joe Bonamassa. “Blooz” is a fun ride, liven up your nest outdoor BBQ with some contemporary takes on the blues and soul jazz.

BRENT LAIDLER Wouldn’t Be Here Without You

Album · 2022 · Soul Jazz
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Looking for some jazz that’s all about the groove and plenty of soul to go around, Brent Laidler’s “Wouldn’t be Here without You” may be the fix you are looking for. What we have here are ten original tunes that vary from Latin jazz to hard bop and blues, with all of them having that intangible quality that some call ‘catchy’. They are easy songs to latch on to and most of these tracks would probably appeal to jazz fans, as well as those that just dig that ‘good times music’ (Lou Reed’s famous wordage) party vibe. Brent is a long time jazz and blues guitarist who is not better known because he doesn’t have much time for touring, nor does he live in prominent jazz venue city. Instead, much of his time in Indiana is taken with soundtrack composing, arranging, instrument repair and other musical endeavors. Brent lists Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessell and Pat Martino as his influences and reflecting on those bluesy boppers will probably give you a clearer picture of his playing than any attempt I could make to break it down for you.

Bossas and sambas make up a big part of this album, but even those Latin tracks carry a strong B3 driven soul jazz flavor, The organist is Jamie Newman, who should be appreciated for how he flavors his organ sound depending on the track. For the Latin numbers he leans toward that dry lean sound favored by the Brazilian organists, on the hard boppers he goes for that Jimmy Smith percussion, and on the blues tracks he is liable to lay on that soulful vibrato and drenching Leslie. The rest of the band is Mark Russell on trumpet, Ned Boyd on sax, Scott Pazera on bass and Richard ‘Sleepy’ Floyd on drums. None of these guys are big names, but all are capable soloists who go for that in the pocket rhythmic punch instead of excessive flamboyance.

All of the tracks on here are great and could easily find a place on contemporary jazz radio. One top number is “Sunday Mood”, with its noire crime jazz sound featuring Ned on the bari sax. Another top number is “City by the Bay”, with its mysterious mood that is based on the image of a midnight dessert caravan finally spotting its distant destination.

GEORGE BENSON Shape of Things to Come

Album · 1968 · Soul Jazz
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“Shape of Things to Come” was George Benson’s first album with producer Creed Taylor and the A&M/CTI label after leaving Verve. Creed brought George on to the label to replace the recently departed Wes Montgomery, a guitarist that George had a lot in common with. Also on board is arranger Don Sebesky, someone who was well known for his ongoing work with Taylor. The result is an album that is somewhat commercial, but also smoking hot in places as well as creative and fresh. The salient feature of course is George’s incredible guitar chops. Easily in the all-time top ten of jazz guitarists, George is sometimes under-rated because of his pop vocal songs and the fact that he makes what he does sound so effortless. Some guitar ‘shredders’ are big on broadcasting how hard they are working, but Benson has no problem reeling off the near impossible without sounding like he has broken a sweat.

Breaking down the tunes, “Footin” is funky soul jazz boogaloo and “Face it Boy its Over” is a soul ballad. Aretha’s “Don’t Let Me Loose this Dream” has a Latin RnB horn driven drive and “Shape of Things that Are and Were” is hard bop blues. Cover tunes, “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and “last Train to Clarksville”, could have been very corny but both are rendered barely recognizable as they are transformed into more boogaloo soul jazz. One of the best tracks is the title track on which George tries out a device called the varitone that produces Les Baxter styled speeded up type effects and a doubling of the guitar sound. It also has one of the best melodies on the album and the only solo not played by Benson when organist Charles Covington takes us on a funky ride. Also worth mention is Sebesky’s exotica styled flute and strings drenched in reverb on the aforementioned “Footin”.

EDDIE HARRIS Silver Cycles

Album · 1969 · Soul Jazz
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Eddie Harris built a solid reputation early in his career as someone who could turn out catchy soul jazz numbers that did well on Black radio stations. As he headed into the late 60s, Eddie, like so many others in the music world, felt a desire to branch out and experiment more. This desire to try new things came to fruition on Harris’s 1969 album, “Silver Cycles”. On this LP, Eddie established a new norm that would go on to mark much of the rest of his career as a tireless eclectic experimenter who was adept at many musical genres.

“Silver Cycles” opens with two excellent funky soul jazz workouts that I would imagine his record company insisted on placing first so that his long time fans would find what they were expecting. On third track, “Smoke Signals”, Eddie signals a definite left hand turn as this mysterious number paints an exotic atmosphere with wordless vocals and echoed saxophone lines. All through out this album Harris makes use of an Echoplex and also sometimes replaces his acoustic sax with the odd sounding electric sax. Side one closes out with, “Coltrane’s View”, which resembles “Naima”, and a sublime big band power ballade called “I’m Gonna Leave You by Yourself”. This last track is worth the cost of the entire album and one of the best songs of Harris’ lengthy career.

Side two is the more experimental side and features a lot of Eddie playing the saxophone by himself and building overlapping lines with his echo machine. His various rhythm sections (there are many guests on here) provide psychedelic fusion over drive on “Little Bit”, and insanely up tempo avant-garde bebop on “Infrapolations”, which bears some resemblance to “Giant Steps”. Musically “Silver Cycles” compares well to other experimental fusion records of the era from folks like Miles and Herbie, so why isn’t this album a well-known fusion classic? A couple things work against this album, the two colors only album cover looks cheap like a bargain bin album, and yes, Eddie’s albums tended to hit the bargain bin often and he seems to always have a cheap looking album cover. Another problem is the production, this album just sounds kind of flat in a way, but from a purely musical perspective, “Silver Cycles” is a gem in the late 60s world of psychedelic fusion.

JEREMY MONTEIRO Jeremy Monteiro & Alberto Marsico : Jazz-Blues Brothers (2021 edition)

Boxset / Compilation · 2021 · Soul Jazz
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All that modern abstract cutting edge cerebral jazz is cool and all, but sometimes you want to hear something that might inspire more of an extroverted party vibe, and that’s where an album like “Jazz-Blues Brothers” comes in. The Jazz Blues Brothers are Jeremy Monteiro on piano and Alberto Marsico on organ, two super hot blues and jazz keyboardists who really deserve more press and recognition than they currently receive. No less than Joey DeFrancesco has described Marsico as one of his favorite organ players. The rest of the band is top notch as well with Eugene Pao supplying rapid jagged bebop and fusion lines on the guitar, and also going full on rock star on a couple tunes as well. Shawn Letts is the required funky tenor player that is essential for soul jazz outings and Shawn Kelley holds down the groove on the drums. Powerhouse blues vocalist Miz Dee Longwood also joins for “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water” and “I’d Rather Go Blind”, both recorded live with the band.

So many good tracks on here, “Opening Act” sets the mood with a classic hard bop swing and “Olympia” follows with some funky RnB. “Mount Olive” sounds like classic Eddie Harris and “Catastrophy” is rapid bebop that lets everyone show off their high speed chops. As mentioned already, there are also a couple of blues vocal numbers too. The real draw for this album though is the skill of the players. Marsico is easily one of the very hottest B3 players around, and Monteiro has a massive piano attack that recalls past masters like Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson. Add to that, Guitarist Eugene Pao, whose fiery guitarisms bring much to this soulful affair.

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Artists with Soul Jazz release(s)

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
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My Favorite Things Hard Bop
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