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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Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching

LES MCCANN Swiss Movement (with Eddie Harris) Album Cover Swiss Movement (with Eddie Harris)
LES MCCANN
4.74 | 6 ratings
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ROY AYERS Live at Montreux Jazz Festival Album Cover Live at Montreux Jazz Festival
ROY AYERS
4.95 | 2 ratings
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LOU DONALDSON Mr. Shing-A-Ling Album Cover Mr. Shing-A-Ling
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4.95 | 2 ratings
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EDDIE HARRIS Exodus to Jazz Album Cover Exodus to Jazz
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4.95 | 2 ratings
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STANLEY TURRENTINE Blue Hour Album Cover Blue Hour
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4.95 | 2 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)
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EDDIE HARRIS Excursions Album Cover Excursions
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4.73 | 3 ratings
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REUBEN WILSON Blue Mode Album Cover Blue Mode
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JOHN PATTON Got a Good Thing Goin' Album Cover Got a Good Thing Goin'
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JIMMY SMITH Root Down Album Cover Root Down
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DAVE PIKE Noisy Silence - Gentle Noise Album Cover Noisy Silence - Gentle Noise
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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

GREG HATZA The Greg Hatza ORGANization : Diggin up My Roots

Album · 2017 · Soul Jazz
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Carmel
A native of Reading, Pennsylvania, Greg Hatza’s musical instincts came to him as early and as naturally as the ability to walk, around age four he began formal lessons. The Hammond B-3 became his life’s obsession as a teenager. Because there were no jazz organ instructors at the time, Greg was largely self-taught, picking up most of his insider knowledge from the organ players at jam sessions at a local club called the Grand Hotel. It was the Grand that Baltimore Colts football great and jazz fan Lenny Moore asked the teenager to perform at a club he was opening in Baltimore. Moore became Greg’s manager and Baltimore became Greg’s home. The organist played at the club for four years and was something of a young jazz lion himself, recording two albums for MCA subsidiary label Coral Records, The Wizardry of Greg Hatza and Organized Jazz.

In the late sixties, Baltimore was still an organ town and had its share of great players. It was here that Greg really got a chance to hone his jazz organ skills by playing with the best musicians in town. Lenny’s club was a great stopping point for national jazz artists who came to Baltimore to perform. It was here that Greg met his mentor Jimmy Smith and got to play with him. Smith later advised Greg on his soon to be recorded albums. He also met and got to play in jam sessions with such personalities as Kenny Burrell, Groove Holmes, Damita Joe, Philly Joe Jones, Roland Kirk, Les McCann, James Moody, and Sonny Stitt.

Greg Hatza’s formal education includes a Bachelor’s degree in Composition from the Peabody Conservatory and a Master’s from Towson State University, where he subsequently taught jazz, piano composition, improvisation and music theory for many years. He also performed with the Towson Jazz Faculty Quartet in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Diggin’ Up My Roots, is Hatza’s Lucky 13 album, featuring a greasy groovy good time. Hatza and his crew really serve up a rollicking good-time sound and the nord C2D Organ is steaming hot. The first cut is “Baltimore Strut,” it seems a fine tribute to his roots in Organ jazz/blues. A swingin’, deeply groovin’ sound that instantly sets the tone of what is to come. Saxophonist, Peter Fraize gives an outstanding solo with full throttle lines and a round warm sound. Guitarist, Brian Kooken digs in with jazz/blues lines that are soulful yet delicious jazz lines all sewn up into a canvas that allows organist Hatza to wail and shout atop, with quick building lines and trills, it’s the best of blues and jazz rolled into one, and if your pulse hasn’t jump started by now; check it – as I guarantee your feet are already moving.

Another pleaser in the mix is “High Healed Sneakers,” a mid -tempo slinky groove written by Robert Higginbotham and made famous by Tommy Tucker in 1964, the group definitely kept the original essence of the tune, and its authenticity rings through. Again, Fraize rails off a high-flying solo, with Kooken using a highly-sophisticated jazz/blues vocabulary in his note choices.

I have always had an affinity for “Back at the Chicken Shack” and Hatza has learned his history well, a Jimmy Smith classic, Hatza lays it out soulfully and with absolute authenticity. This organist truly grew up through the ranks, he is dripping with soulful elongated lines and links the lines between jazz, blues and soul with rarity of execution. Smith is a hard act to follow, but Hatza certainly is no slouch, and you can tell, he has put the time in the trenches to pull off this tune.

Overall, Diggin’ Up My Roots is a worthwhile offering that should stay in the forefront of your mind long after you take a listen. Hatza has created a lasting sound, and his ensemble of compadres, add to the depth of the overall enjoyment. A highly enjoyable release, that features an exceedingly tight group sound.

JOCELYN MICHELLE Time to Play

Album · 2016 · Soul Jazz
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js
Although Jocelyn Michelle has been playing the Hammond B3 for many years in Florida, Los Angeles and Hawaii, she has not been given a chance to lead her own CD until this year’s “Time to Play”. Eager to show what she is capable of, Jocelyn does not hold back and treats us to the myriad styles she works with in the fields of jazz, blues, rock and RnB. Although personal varies a bit per song, most songs feature a small horn section, as well as guitar, drums and percussion. Husband John Rack plays the guitar on the RnB tunes, while Bruce Forman carries the jazzier numbers. Likewise, the smooth tone of saxophonist Doug Webb covers the be-bop flavor, while Steve Mann is featured on the funkier tracks.

The first four tracks on “Time to Play” are probably the best, or at least the most energetic. “Englewood Cliffs” is driving up-tempo hard bop, “Sylvia’s Song” is Latin soul in the style of early Santana, “Trouble Man” is a Marvin Gaye cover given a Steely Dan style swing, and “A Sister’s Love” is hot funk jazz ala Eddie Harris or Grover Washington. Things get a little more mellow when Gina Saputo sings Michelle’s Bossa Nova original, “Oh No, I Could be in Love”. Although the high energy level drops a bit here, it is a very well written original, both in music and lyrics, and it is well sung too. The rest of the CD is good as it moves from more bossa to bop and a dramatic instrumental ballad in “Never Let Me Go”. “The Pink Panther Theme” may seem like an odd choice for a serious jazz band, but Jocelyn makes it work by using enough horns to give it some interesting arrangements. The CD closes with another vocal original called “The Loss”. Once again, it’s a well composed tune, and sung emotionally by Regina Leonard Smyth, but its country-gospel style that recalls Bonnie Raitt or Don Henley, is a bit of a surprise on this otherwise jazzy CD.

ILLINOIS JACQUET The Message

Album · 1963 · Soul Jazz
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js
Illinois Jacquet was one of the hottest saxophone players of the be-bop 40s. As the 60s rolled around, with interest in bop declining, Illinois began to try out different sounds, including this 1963 foray into commercially viable soul jazz called “The Message”. As far as 60s soul jazz goes, “The Message” isn’t too bad of a recording, not the best you will hear in this genre, but far from the worst too. It’s a rather large ensemble on here, with Jacquet being joined by the great Kenny Burrell on lead guitar, and Ralph Smith on B3. Four others round out a rhythm section of bass, drums, percussion and rhythm guitar. With such a large group you are guaranteed some interesting rhythmic interplay, and all the musicians are careful not to step on each other’s toes. Burrell, Jacquet and Ralph share equally in the solos, and all three sound great. Ralph often prefers a big full stop organ sound, suped-up with massive vibrato. This sort of excessiveness may seem corny to some, but he handles the style well.

There is a variety of music on here, with most cuts leaning towards something that might be commercially profitable. Probably the top track is the fiery uptempo hard bop of “Wild Man”, which features some of the hottest solos on the album. “Turnpike” is a mid tempo blues that fits perfectly with Illinois’ gruff sound and Burrell’s bluesy licks. “On Broadway” is a fun kitsch number that is played in the style of “Tequila” and probably carries some appeal for the exotica crowd. Likewise, “Bonita”, with its Latin rhythms and Persian flavored organ solo may also appeal to the exotica fans. Overall, Ralph Smith’s exaggerated organ style probably carries more appeal for exotica fans than it does for jazz fans. Possibly the weakest cut is “Bassoon Blues’ on which Jacquet plays the blues on the bassoon. He’s not a bad bassoon player, but his chops on this instrument are nowhere near his chops on the tenor.

RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK Blacknuss

Album · 1972 · Soul Jazz
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js
You can never really know what to expect from a Rahsaan Roland Kirk record, he was never one to be bound by style or genre, instead, he approached any style he wanted with his trademark enthusiastic energy and off-the-wall creativity. So it comes to pass in 1972 that Kirk hits us with this rather wild collection of soul jazz tunes, plus a few expected unexpected oddities, called “Blacknuss”. In the early 70s, much of the soul jazz world had morphed into a groove-heavy style of psychedelic fusion, and “Blacknuss” fits in well with all of that. This is groove based music, but as you would expect from Kirk, this is not a particularly laid back album, instead, many tracks are often exploding with near chaotic energy.

Most of the tunes on here are well known RnB/pop numbers, but you have never heard them played like this before. Along with all the covers, there are also a couple of Kirk originals; “Which way is it Going” is a high speed country romp with frantic flute playing and some yelling too, and title cut “Blacknuss” is African fusion, once again hitting a high speed tempo. Kirk has some great support musicians on here, with honorable mention going to organist Mickey Tucker and his old school full-stops-out organ sound that puts cuts like “I Love You Yes I Do” and “Old Rugged Cross” right over the top. Next time you’re throwing a party, forget about that fluffy little acid jazz record and put this on instead, “Blacknuss” would make a great soundtrack to a party about to teeter out of control.

DR LONNIE SMITH Funk Reaction

Album · 1977 · Soul Jazz
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Rokukai
(Dr) Lonnie Smith had settled into funky lite fuzak by the end of the seventies, trying his best to appeal to the jazz buying masses. Smith's appeal is his tasteful, elegant delivery of properly chosen and, most often, composed material. As with most of his output from the mid 1970's The Doctor's keyboards never dominate this session. It reads as super chill starsky and hutch type lounge music. While performed expertly, it can seem a little stale on the palettes of some. Sax Solos on "Bobbitt's Other Song" and "For the Love of It" add energy to this almost lost jazzfunkssoul gem/typical late seventies record riding the waves generated by Herbie Hancock and a host of others. The good news for the weary is there's no dabbling in disco, as Lonnie does on his next, and last record for sixteen years. The cover art adds to the cheese factor.

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Artists with Soul Jazz release(s)

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