Jazz Streams
home jazz etiquette sound ideas kcho kcsm kjaz contact us
Sound Ideas #47 - Soul Jazz
Soul Jazz rose to prominence during the 1960s and remained an influence in Jazz Fusion and other idioms to certain degree thereafter. We'll take a listen to a few classics as well as some under appreciated charts. Welcome to an hour that's gotta lotta soul. 
Artist Track Album
Les McCann Ltd Filet of Soul Plays The Shampoo at the Village Gate
Geroge Benson Farm Boy Willow Weep for Me
Billy Childs An Afterthought Take for Example This...
Cannonball Adderley Quintet Sticks Money in the Pocket
Bobby Hutcherson Hanin' Out (with You) Waiting
Booker T. and the MG's Kinda Easy LIke Melting Pot
Ramsey Lewis Trio The Train Won't Wait Barefoot Sunday Blues
Eddie Harris Ambidextrous Eddie Who
Bobby Timmons This Here This Here is Bobby TImmons
Les McCann and Eddie Harris Cold Duck Time Swiss Movement

Soul Jazz was a continuation of the musical mess that created hard bop, that is the combination of the blues, gospel, bebop, and groovin' feeling. It also marked a shift in rhythmic sensibility to incorporate the emerging bossa-nova and straight eighth note feeling that would come to dominate the 1960s. However, swing remained a powerful component in some soul jazz.

Les McCann was an early soul jazz player, as evidenced by our opening number. His along with other piano trios become very popular in the early to middle 1960s and heavily influenced the sound of popular "soul" music.

George Benson mixed straight ahead jazz and soul jazz in his early years and we hear a lesser known piece but one that captures the solid groove enabled by Lonnie Smith. Bill Childs some twenty years later recorded a soulful piece, one that illustrates a touch of fusion as well, and we end the second set with Cannonball Adderley's Quintet, a band that straddled the line between hard bop and soul jazz for many years.

Bobby Hutcherson was not a major player on the soul jazz scene until much later in the 1970s. By then his sound was a tad more fusion than soul, but serves as a great illustration of where the two idioms met. Booker T and the M. G.s were predominantly an Soul or R&B band, but their final album carried a strong Soul Jazz tinge, and we hear them swing it along a nice steady groove. Ramey Lewis's and Les McCann's were two piano trios that managed a good deal of popularly outside of jazz circles, and this shuffling groove is testimony to that.

Closing out the hour we hear from the creative soul of Eddie Harris, reeds, keys, and voice seemingly all at once. And our final number is one of the best known tracks from the idiom, recorded at a jam session at the now famous Montreux Jazz Festival in 1969.

Soul Jazz per se waned in popularity as fusion took over the more commercial aspects of jazz to be followed by a return to the classic hard bop forms some years later. Nevertheless, soul jazz was not just a cheap gimmickl, but an exploration of yet another side of the blues reinterpretted in the context of the then present day. The improvisation that took place on any of these tracks is testimonal to the "pureness" of the jazz art component, the rich groove and fun times, reflect the soulfulness of life.