Acid Jazz

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Acid jazz grew out of the late 80s DJ scene in London in which record spinners would treat dancing patrons to difficult to find 45s released by 60s soul jazz artists. Eventually contemporary lounge/jazz performers such as James Taylor began to capitalize on this interest in 60s 'rare groove' and began to perform live music that had equal appeal for the trendy club crowd. Another aspect of early Acid Jazz involved the mixing of 60s RnB-jazz with the sounds and rhythms of acid house. Once Acid Jazz left England, confusion as to what it actually was created a diversity of influences including dub reggae, hip-hop, drumnbass and 60s psychedelic rock. More recently Acid Jazz is often seen as either 60s rare groove, or a merging of jazz with trip-hop or other club friendly electronica sounds and rhythms.

Typically the artists listed in JMA's acid jazz genre are live bands while acid jazz artists who are more DJ based are listed in our DJ/Electronica jazz genre.

acid jazz top albums

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

JAMIROQUAI The Return of the Space Cowboy Album Cover The Return of the Space Cowboy
4.44 | 14 ratings
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JOHN SCOFIELD The John Scofield Band : Up All Night Album Cover The John Scofield Band : Up All Night
4.46 | 5 ratings
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THE POETS OF RHYTHM Discern / Define Album Cover Discern / Define
4.27 | 4 ratings
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JOHN SCOFIELD The John Scofield Band ‎: überjam Album Cover The John Scofield Band ‎: überjam
4.12 | 7 ratings
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BROOKLYN FUNK ESSENTIALS In the Buzzbag Album Cover In the Buzzbag
4.17 | 3 ratings
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THE BRAND NEW HEAVIES The Brand New Heavies (1992) Album Cover The Brand New Heavies (1992)
4.08 | 5 ratings
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TOPAZ The Zone Album Cover The Zone
4.04 | 3 ratings
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JAMIROQUAI Emergency on Planet Earth Album Cover Emergency on Planet Earth
3.90 | 13 ratings
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ERIK TRUFFAZ The Walk of the Giant Turtle Album Cover The Walk of the Giant Turtle
4.00 | 3 ratings
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ERIK TRUFFAZ El tiempo de la Revolución Album Cover El tiempo de la Revolución
4.00 | 3 ratings
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ERIK TRUFFAZ Bending New Corners Album Cover Bending New Corners
3.70 | 5 ratings
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ST. GERMAIN Tourist Album Cover Tourist
3.69 | 8 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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acid jazz Music Reviews

TOPAZ The Zone

Album · 2002 · Acid Jazz
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It had already been five years since tenor saxophonist Topaz McGarrigle's Texan jazz act made it's debut by the time the group's third studio album rolled around. It's hard to judge whether or not they were earning the fruits of their labor because, other than the occasional resurfacing of McGarrigle such as his new band Golden Dawn Arkestra, the group has practically erased themselves from all the books.

Topaz were hampered down their whole career by a changing music scene after their pilgrimage from Texas to bustling New York City. McGarrigle's idea was to take advantage of the reinvigorated neo-futurist jazz casually gaining momentum in the 90's and market his and his groups talents within it. Problem was, hip-hop and R&B had been gaining momentum much more within the same decade, so much so that the hype for this new medium basically snuffed the jazz candle from any mainstream success. Although Topaz never truly made it to any high status or really even cult status sadly, they nevertheless delivered several great releases as they continued to evolve, regardless of how much attention they were getting...or lack thereof.

Topaz' music isn't exactly revolutionary, nor is it exceptionally technical like you might expect a contemporary jazz fusion act might be. Of course, McGarrigle's work on the sax is extremely proficient in both standard style and avant-garde, as well Squantch on the trombone. But what Topaz's The Zone exudes more than anything is personality. Tight knit instrumentation can bleed perfectly into rich improvisation, making the entire group, while not exactly attempting to show themselves as the most technically robust jazz act out there, still manage to make themselves seem like living legends with class alone. This could in part be due to the influence electric-era Miles Davis had on them, and to which they owe much of their structural composition. Yet other genres progressively ooze their way onto the set, particularly on the funky bass licks being the driving force on many tracks, such as the almost 8 minute long swagger of 'Walkabout'. The funk attitude is also present on heavy groovers like 'Fat City Strut', and with a name like that I'd expect nothing less. A tinge of psychedelic aura on many of the songs, especially the opener 'Minha Mente', reinforced by the mesmerizing drum fills by Christian Ulrich, make for a well-reinforced acid-jazz environment.

Some dubious elements also make themselves present though. The occasional vocal breaks on some of the songs, like the overly cheesy ones of 'You & Me', tend to disrupt the flow of what would otherwise be a very maturely structured song. Along with that and a fair bit of annoying repetition in many of the songs (in the percussion section especially) do make The Zone withstand a bit more quality it otherwise would have.

Topaz's third album marks another rather good release for the band after 2000's Listen!, and also marks the band's continued level of quality even as they progressed towards their dissolution.

THE GREYBOY ALLSTARS What Happened to Television

Album · 2007 · Acid Jazz
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If you like Acid Jazz, groove heavy nu-jazz, funky groove jazz with a side of grease then this is the album for you. The Grey boy All Stars proved they were legit throwbacks with their 1995 debut. That album, titled West Coast Boogaloo, lives up to it's title admirably and features the mighty Fred Wesley who give his patented funk stylings added throwback appeal. All musicians here have become stars among the jam band circuit and lend credence to the myth awesome musicians don't have to sell out their sound to big labels in order to make an authentic product and earn a solid living.


Album · 1994 · Acid Jazz
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siLLy puPPy
I cannot fathom that there would be any question that HERBIE HANCOCK has been amongst the crème de le crème of fusionists that the jazz world has ever experienced. Right from the very start of his early career this keyboardist extraordinaire was chomping at the bit to break free from the standard post-bop of the day by incorporating hitherto unheard of techniques into the jazz world such as orchestral accompaniments, inventive new ways of expressing simple chords and ways of incorporating non-jazz elements seamlessly into the genre which eventually entered him access into the musical world of Miles Davis and beyond. In the 70s HANCOCK really took off with this innovation with “Mwandishi” trilogy, the funk jazz of “Headhunters” and the jazz-inflicted electro-funk of albums like “Future Shock” in the 80s. Never being one to rest on his laurels the 90s proved to be yet another period of adventurous experimentation with hip-hop and dance music that after simmering for a decade on the world’s dance floors eventually got the label “acid jazz.”

With HERBIE’s ambition to leave no viable rhythmic stones unturned he headed into the studio with a huge eclectic crew of musicians and producers from both the past and modern day to create one of his most accessible and unusual albums (for him) yet - DIS IS DA DRUM, an album that tackles the 90s hip-hop rhythms, 80s dance floor grooves and jazz history of the past. Of course, HERBIE effortlessly melds all of the above together in the most pleasant of ways creating the perfect jazz meets dance floor album that keeps the dance floor sensibilities intact while fortifying them with his lush keyboard solos, sampling loops, jazz instruments like sax and trumpet while incorporating ethnic African instruments ranging from the djembe, bata, conga dunun, shekere, cabasa all the while keeping it sewn together with the state of art production technology the era had to offer.

While i have to admit that this was not what i expected upon first listen, i remained open minded and found it took a few spins to sink in. While not exactly difficult to absorb upon listen number one, it can be a slap in the face for any jazz purists who are expecting the usual syncopation as usual or the complexities of post-bop or 70s fusion. This is a feel good album that treats the listener to steady dance floor / hip hop beats while letting the jazz-fusion feast play second fiddle while retaining its consistency and danceable rhythms that dominate DIS IS DA DRUM. No fear for those who crave the complexibtilies of jazz. They are there but simply contributing a behind-the-scenes approach where they ooze out now and again to remind you that this is indeed a HERBIE HANCOCK album and his high standards insure us that he has the knack for choosing the best of the best to help fulfill his vision of this unique musical expression.

DIS IS DA DRUM is often described as the perfect party jazz album and that is a statement that i am totally on board with. This is indeed a nice cocktail lounge cornucopia of sounds that works so well as background music but with enough savoir-faire to please jazz musicians who are keen to notice all the details. While this certainly will never rank amongst the top achievements that HERBIE HANCOCK has contributed to the world of music in general, this remains a nice little supplemental feast of sounds for those who wish to delve beyond the classics and into the more eccentric little adventures that HANCOCK has embarked upon. Generally speaking this album starts out very strong but seems to diminish its effect as it progresses due to the fact that the incessant monobeats do steal the thunder of it being a totally outstanding album. Still though, not a bad listen in the least.

THE BRAND NEW HEAVIES The Brand New Heavies (1992)

Album · 1992 · Acid Jazz
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There is a certain amount of confusion surrounding The Brand New Heavies’ first album (also called “The Brand New Heavies”). The original release featured Jay Williamson (named Jay Ella Ruth at the time) on vocals and was released in England in 1990. It was quickly replaced by a new version with a lot of the same songs, but with the much stronger N’Dea Davenport from the US on vocals. This version of the album was released first in the US and was also used later for any re-issues of the album worldwide. This review is also based on the Davenport version, as that has become the definitive version of the album for most.

This was the first album from England’s late 80s acid jazz fad to actually connect in the US. Although popular with the rave kids in England and elsewhere, acid jazz remained a mystery in the US, with only a few big cities on the coasts picking up on its trendy mix of 60s soul jazz, 70s funk and 80s DJ music. Early English acid jazz bands such as The James Taylor Quartet were a little too exotica cute and loungey to connect with the more funkified US RnB/dance/jazz scene. The Brand New Heavies, on the other hand, carried a lot more of the street rhythms and funky grooves that made them recognizable to the Americanos.

Musically the Heavies first album is similar to what The Commodores and Kool and the Gang were playing in the late 70s, a blend of pop and funk with very dance-able rhythms, but not as down and dirty as the more hardcore early to mid-70s funk sound. Every song and every riff on here is great, but its all done with a certain cleanliness that some funk fans may find a little on the lite side. Likewise, the instrumental numbers are similar to The Brecker Brothers, but not with the same blazing bebop chops. Davenport is a great singer, but her voice lacks character and personality, she sounds like the top notch back-up singer all of a sudden promoted to lead. It all adds up, this is a good album, but it would have been tops with a little more grit and grease.

Although most of this album stays on the pop-funk vibe, “Put the Funk Back In It” slows things down for a heavy p-funk groove, while follow up song “Gimme One of Those” takes the guitar riff from Funkadelic’s “Loose Booty” and tops it with classic James Brown style synth noodling. You’ll swear you’ve heard this song before somewhere back in the 70s. Live funk bands were a rarity in 1990, and this band was a real breath of fresh air and a wake up call to other musicians that the funk was back. It also still sounds great today, although maybe not nasty enough for the hardcore funk fans.


Album · 2013 · Acid Jazz
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“Uberjam Deux” is the second installment in a little acid jazz series John Scofield initiated about a decade ago. Nothing too serious going on here, this is mostly fun jams for folks who want to get their groove on. John doesn’t even stretch out on any long solos, mostly keeping the tunes short and to the point. You get a nice variety of rhythms on this CD with lots of RnB from old school to new, plus some Afro-beat, a bit of reggae and even a hint of electronica here and there. One thing that stands out over repeat listens is the fact that Scofield is an excellent RnB guitarist, something that isn’t always true with others from the jazz field. If you had to pick an overall tag for John’s career, it would be hard to choose between jazz and RnB, he’s quite good at both. The funky little riffs he supplies throughout this album are almost like a dictionary of RnB licks for any aspiring guitarist trying to learn the trade.

With today’s technology, drum loops and rhythm software it would have been easy for Scofield to put an album like this together himself, but fortunately he wisely chose to have a real rhythm section and even a second guitarist (Avi Bortnick) adding syncopated counter parts to John’s funky guitar licks. Keyboardist John Medeski also appears on some of the tunes with his signature B3 playing. I have to admit, on first listen I was disappointed in this CD because I had previously been listening to Scofield’s very demanding post bop workout on “ScoLoHoFo”, where four all-star musicians push each other to the max and John lays down some very creative extended solos. “Uberjam” is not that kind of a project and it began to win me over as I realized how excellent and abundantly plentiful John’s RnB riffs are.

For folks who like this sort of groove oriented RnB/jazz, this one is better than most. A lot of artists will slap these sort of projects together quickly and then phone in the results, but Scofield took the time to put something very nice together, and his playing and dictionary of riffs are a must hear for any aspiring RnB guitarist.

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