Jimmy Smith – Root Down (1972)

The intoxicating, sweaty atmosphere of The Bombay Bicycle Club in Los Angeles on the evening of February 8, 1972 is faultlessly trapped forever on this excellent live release by Hammond B3 maestro Jimmy Smith. Energised by the young street-wise musicians in his new line-up and inspired to investigate new directions in groove-saturated jazz, Smith unwittingly … Continue reading Jimmy Smith – Root Down (1972)

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Shirley Scott – Shirley Scott & The Soul Saxes (1969)

Undeservedly obscure but near essential in your collection, this recording from the peak Atlanta Records soul era features some major players and a great set list. In itself this is no guarantee of a classic; this dynamite disc, however, delivers the goods in abundance. Organist Shirley Scott had been a prolific soul-jazz recording artist since … Continue reading Shirley Scott – Shirley Scott & The Soul Saxes (1969)

Wes Montgomery – Full House (1962)

On this sizzling live date, guitar great Wes Montgomery is joined by the Wynton Kelly Trio (Wynton Kelly/piano, Paul Chambers/bass and Jimmy Cobb/drums) and the under-rated Johnny Griffin on sax who absolutely tears up this set. Everyone is in top form on all selections which is why, for me, this shades Montgomery’s more famous live … Continue reading Wes Montgomery – Full House (1962)

John Coltrane – Coltrane’s Sound (1960)

Among the heavyweight albums recorded during John Coltrane's solo career, there are several gems that have become somewhat obscured over the decades beneath the vast shadow of the legendary releases. So revered are rightful classics such as Blue Train (1957), Giant Steps (1960) and of course the canonised A Love Supreme (1965) that comparatively minor … Continue reading John Coltrane – Coltrane’s Sound (1960)

Sam Rivers – Contours (1965)

Sam Rivers, a veteran jazz multi-instrumentalist, was forty-two years old when he assembled this Blue Note LP, only his second as leader. Unlike his debut Fuchsia Swing Song (1964) which, while adventurous, was unmistakably hard-bop, his approach on Contours is resolutely avant garde and informed by new ideas in jazz and influences absorbed during his … Continue reading Sam Rivers – Contours (1965)

Charles Mingus – Oh Yeah (1962)

It's always an event when two mad geniuses come together to record an album. Multi-instrumentalist Roland Kirk, young, blind and brilliant, performed with Charles Mingus for a mere three months. Oh Yeah (also featuring the very excellent Booker Ervin who is less prominent here) is the sole recorded chronicle of this brief union, and one … Continue reading Charles Mingus – Oh Yeah (1962)

Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall (1957)

Imagine rummaging through your junk drawer and finding high-def video footage of the actual Sermon on the Mount from back in the day complete with fluffed lines and coughing from within the congregation; it would be quite a thing. Well folks, this is even better than that! Discovered hiding in the vaults of the Library … Continue reading Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall (1957)

Ronnie Foster – The Two-Headed Freap (1972)

I have no idea what a freap is, and a two-headed specimen is something I can't begin to imagine. Regardless, this sparkling slice of funked out soul jazz is a pure document of the times from which it emerged. Many jazz purists were dismayed that Blue Note would dare release anything so unashamedly contemporary, but … Continue reading Ronnie Foster – The Two-Headed Freap (1972)

Hubert Laws – The Laws Of Jazz (1964)

There are some jazz fans who find little to get excited about when it comes to certain instruments. The jazz bagpipes of Rufus Harley Jr. and Dorothy Ashby's harp are novel, but hardly enflame the passions and therefore have a limited following. Likewise, the flute was generally considered a second or third tier instrument in … Continue reading Hubert Laws – The Laws Of Jazz (1964)

Dr. Lonnie Smith – Drives (1970)

Before he started wearing a turban and styling himself as "Doctor", Lonnie Smith was a leading light among the many soul-jazz organ players that emerged in the late 60s. Signed to the Blue Note label he produced some of the more original and interesting albums of the genre and spun his sound on discs by … Continue reading Dr. Lonnie Smith – Drives (1970)