Friday, May 20, 2016

10 Jazz/R&B Tunes You Must Hear

All tracks US releases unless otherwise noted...

1. SASCHA BURLAND-"Hole In My Soul" Columbia 4-42009 1961
I was turned onto this track back in the 80's by Peter Frampton's pre-Herd group The Preachers who cut it as the A-side to their lone 45.  Fast forward to a few years back and I decided to investigate it further. It's more of a comedy record but it's jazzy swing and Burland's detached hipster "vocal" is highly entertaining and worth a listen.

2. JIMMIE McGRIFF-"Jungle Cat" Jell 502 196?
This is a somewhat rare Jimmy McGriff 45 credited to "Jimmie" on the small Newark, New Jersey based label Jell. Full of gritty Hammond goodness and accented by some groovy bongos (credited on the label to one Hank McGriff), "Jungle Cat" is a nifty little instrumental that provides a direct link to what The Brian Auger Trinity were getting at.

3. REDD FOXX-"Real Pretty Momma" Dooto  416 1957
Everyone and their brother knows Redd Foxx for his comedy and most importantly as crotchety old Fred Sanford on "Sanford And Son". But do any of you know him as an r&b/ blues belter? I didn't until many years ago when I stumbled on this song on a cheap Redd Foxx comedy album. Both sides of this 45 (the A-side is "It's Fun To Be Living In The Crazy House") owe a strong influence to the vocal and musical style of Big Joe Turner which Redd pulls off admirably!

4. BOBBY BLAND-"Good Time Charlie" Duke 402 1966
With so many Bobby "Blue" Bland 45's to chose from it's hard to pick one but my fave will always be "Good Time Charlie". It infuses his blues shouter style with a funky uptown soul feel accented by some tight horns and has some cool, boastful lyrics.

5.  BABY FACE WILLETTE-"Roll 'Em Pete"Argo 5503 1965
Jazz Hammond maestro Roosevelt "Baby Face" Willette's career and discography were sadly short and slim. With just two albums on Blue Note and two on Argo before passing away in 1971 his legacy is all too brief. This take on "Roll 'Em Pete" was issued on his final LP "Behind The 8 Ball" and on the flip of "Amen" (his final 45) and is fully representative of his cool, not too flashy, subtle organ style and accented by some guitar work by Ben White.

6. FREDDY KING-"Monkey Donkey" Federal 45-12509 1963
One could easily write an entire post of Freddie King's top 10 (hmmmm that's the ticket) so picking one tune was no easy feat.  My money has always been on this track that accents his laid back vocal style and twangy string bending with a cool, danceable mid tempo groove.

7.  OSCAR BROWN JR.-"Living Double (In A World Of Trouble)" Fontana F-1506 1965
Oscar Brown Jr is was and everymore shall be my favorite jazz vocalist. This cut was culled from his dynamic 1965 live album "Mr. Oscar Brown Jr. Goes To Washington" and captures him at his wittiest musing about the dangers of juggling multiple women ("a woman and a wife, a solid situation that can cost somebody's life...") with some bluesy guitar (c/o Phil Upchurch) bass, drums and piano behind him.

8. WILLIE MABON-"I'm The Fixer" USA 741 1963
Willie Mabon will always be my favorite bluesy r&b singer due to his distinct unique style. "I'm The Fixer" (composed by Mabon with Willie Dixon) is a down home bluesy piece full of braggadocio with some sleazy piano and Mabon's understated cool vocal delivery.

9. SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON-"The Goat" Checker 943 1960
Sonny Boy Williamson's unmistakable voice and unique harp blowing style are both perfectly accentuated on this 1960 45 that strangely escaped being covered (to my knowledge) by the Sonny Boy worshiping British blues aficionados in the 60's, making it a perfect obscurity.

10. THE MERCED BLUE NOTES-"Mama Rufus" Galaxy 744 1966
Here's a 45 and band I know absolutely zip about.  I was turned onto this by one of the "Mod Jazz" CD comps a few years back. It's a catchy little twangy guitar/groovy Hammond instrumental that's jazzy enough to sound cool but doesn't get too lost in itself.

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