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
4.95 | 2 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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LES MCCANN Les McCann & Eddie Harris : Swiss Movement Album Cover Les McCann & Eddie Harris : Swiss Movement
LES MCCANN
4.53 | 7 ratings
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JOHN SCOFIELD Hand Jive Album Cover Hand Jive
JOHN SCOFIELD
4.75 | 2 ratings
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JIMMY SMITH Root Down Album Cover Root Down
JIMMY SMITH
4.47 | 10 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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REUBEN WILSON Blue Mode (aka Organ Talk) Album Cover Blue Mode (aka Organ Talk)
REUBEN WILSON
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
4.37 | 7 ratings
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REUBEN WILSON Love Bug Album Cover Love Bug
REUBEN WILSON
4.50 | 2 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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soul jazz Music Reviews

RICHARD "GROOVE" HOLMES Supa Cookin (with Jimmy McGriff)

Boxset / Compilation · 1974 · Soul Jazz
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js
Supa Cookin’ is one of those jazz records that throws all attempts at subtlety out the window and goes for high energy good time jams in which the players gladly show off their most dexterous high speed licks in a crowd pleasing display of showmanship. This sort of thing can be embarrassing if the players can’t deliver, but Holmes and McGriff come through with fierce solos and the energy never drops for a second.

This is a two record live set that features the duo B3s of Holmes and McGriff, plus two or three guitars, one drummer and a percussionist on each side. There is a change of lineup on the second disc with Leon Cook and Mark Elf replacing George Freeman on second (plus third) guitar, and Mike Moss replacing Bernard Purdie on drums. I don’t know if the lineup change is the reason, but the music on the second record is better and more modern than the first disc.

Record one is mostly swing based hard bop and the guys really work it to death, but I prefer record two on which they play in a 70s funk jazz style on ‘The Preacher’s Tune’, and a modern African fusion style on ‘Mozambique’. The fast bop tunes on record two also go at a more furious pace than the ones on record one. Overall, disc one is more like the old Holmes-McGriff soul jazz style we‘ve heard before, but disc two shows them becoming more modern and more high energy as well.

This is a live recording and the B3s have great natural distortion for a rock like aggressive energy. The double and triple guitar player effect is also nice as they complement each other with interlocking funky riffs. If you like virtuoso B3 playing, this is a good one.

MIKE SCOTT Collecting Things

Album · 2020 · Soul Jazz
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js
Mike Scott is a 20 year veteran of the Los Angelas music scene and every ten years or so he puts out a CD of original music. His latest, “Collecting Things”, is his third album as a leader and finds him performing an eclectic, but relaxed set of hard bop, blues, Latin jazz and folk rock instrumentals. Scott has that Jim Hall influence that we tend to associate with the west coast, plus a good dose of Wes Montgomery’s blues jazz. In a recent interview, Pat Metheny complained that too many current guitarists sound like himself, well Pat would be happy to know that Scott does not sound like Pat, or any other guitarists with that contemporary soft sound. Instead, Mike’s attack has some welcome bite to it, somewhat like John Schofield, but without a trace of John’s well known clichés. Helping Mike out here we also have the keyboards of Joe Bagg, plus Darek Oles on bass and Jake Reed on drums.

Mike has a background in classical guitar, and his training in expressive finger picking pays off on the opening classically flavored “Sol Minor Prelude”. This is followed by three hard bop/blues tracks with “Jack’s Dilemma” achieving a nirvana like tranquil balance with its very cool space blues vibe reminiscent of “All Blues” and “Killer Joe”. “On a Clear Day” is the one cover on the album and it is given a Latin rhythm which also applies to the next two numbers. Mike concludes the album with a couple soulful rock ballads that have a Curtis Mayfield or Bobby Womack vibe to them.

“Collecting Things” is one of those albums that will probably slip by a lot of people. Mike’s playing is somewhat understated, but he is very musical and repeat listens will surely play to this CD’s advantage. The aforementioned “Jack’s Dilemma” is a great song for showing Mike’s strengths. A simple melodic statement packed with a lot of soul and delivered with perfectly patient timing.

GRANT GREEN Green is Beautiful

Album · 1970 · Soul Jazz
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js
Green is Beautiful” is a transitional album for Grant Green as it finds him moving more from the hard bop of his early career and more towards a funk/RnB sound. Like a lot of soul jazz LPs form this era. ‘Beautiful’ is kind of hit and miss with about one half good RnB jazz grooves, and about one half pop ditties that are forgettable. Side one opens with a cover of James Brown’s “Aint it Funky Now”, and it’s a solid cooker with great solos from the whole crew, including saxophonist Claude Bartee, who might remind some of Eddie Harris. This side closes out with the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life”. This song was popular with soul jazz musicians, but it never works well. Although it’s a good song in its original format, the different changes in the arrangement don’t lend itself very well to jazz or RnB solos.

Side two opens with another JB’s style groove, “The Windjammer”, which is followed by a very lackluster “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”. I’m not sure whose idea it was to include this very cheesy pop song, but it sticks out like the sorest of thumbs. It’s a bad song to begin with and there is no way to save it, or make it better. The album closes with the best track, “Dracula”, another funk number and one of the few tracks with a very strong melody. If you keep the three best tracks on “Green is Beautiful”, you have a decent funk jazz album, albeit one that mostly sounds like a jam session. It doesn’t hurt that Green in his crew know how to turn in hot solos over an infectious groove.

FRED RANDOLPH Mood Walk

Album · 2020 · Soul Jazz
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js
Lately a lot of young people in London, LA and elsewhere are rediscovering that jazz doesn’t belong in a museum, it can be relevant, now and fun, party music with a message if you want. No doubt its great seeing this happen. Those of us who have been around for a while can recall a jazz style that was great for parties, while being socially relevant, back in the 70s. That style was called soul jazz and it fueled many a backyard gathering and late night club date back in the day. Fred Randolph’s new CD, “Mood Walk” is not retro soul jazz per se, but it does capture a similar spirit with its mix of upbeat hard bop, funk jazz, Latin grooves and laid back change ups. The CD’s appeal is pushed further by the fact that Randolph’s band is made up of musicians that know each other well and have played together often over the years, this is not of those quickly thrown together recording dates.

Fred is a multi-instrumentalist who tried his hand at guitar and saxophone before settling on the bass. In addition to his CDs as a leader, Fred works as a sideman in many different styles including, classical, rock, samba, salsa and RnB. Fred’s assembled band on “Mood Walk” is super hot with trumpeter Erik Jekabson and saxophonist Sheldon Brown leading the way with veteran confidence and youthful energy. One of the best tracks is the Congo derived driving energy of “Nouveau Monde”. When Greg Sankovitch enters with a flying B3 solo, it sounds like you are in classic Santana land. “Mr Now” mixes Coltrane inspired hard bop with more Latin flavor, while “T Bone Slide” and “Funky N.O. Thing” kick the party in high gear with the funk jazz. Life has been hard lately, let “Mood Walk”, lighten your burden.

DAVE STRYKER Eight Track III

Album · 2019 · Soul Jazz
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kev rowland
It’s the lava lamp on the cover which gives an idea to what is inside this album. As one may have surmised it is the third in a series (apparently the current thinking is that it may well be the end of a trilogy, but look at Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), and isn’t a reference to recording but instead is a trip back in time to when cars all had eight-track cartridge machines. Okay, so only those who are a certain age will remember these, but long before I investigated by dad’s jazz records (which he no longer played), I cut my teeth on jazz being played in the car. Here guitarist Stryker is leading Stefon Harris (vibraphone), Jared Gold (organ), McClenty Hunter (drums) and Mayra Casales (congas and percussion) on a trip down memory lane, revisiting songs from the Seventies in his own imitable style.

No vocals, but that doesn’t mean that the guitar is always the sole “voice”, as Harris and Gold all take turns either on their own or joined by one or both of the other melodic players. There is plenty on the album to enjoy, with songs by Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and others. The slowed-down delicate take on “We’ve Only Just Begun” is a masterpiece in restraint, with brushes on the drums, delicate organ support, Stryker allows himself to take the gentle lead in a way that conjures up images of him sat on a stool bathed in a spotlight in an otherwise dark club. This is continued by Harris in the same manner, and overall takes the song in a totally different direction to the original, yet somehow still staying very close indeed – it is a masterful display of restrain and control.

Overall this is a very enjoyable release indeed.

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