John Handy – No Coast Jazz (1960)

Texas-born altoist John Handy moved to New York City in his mid-twenties and was promptly recruited by Charles Mingus, appearing on the classic LPs Mingus Ah-Um, Blues and Roots and Mingus Dynasty all recorded in 1959. Everything Handy thought he knew about theory and performance was challenged by the maverick composer whose adventurous and demanding … Continue reading John Handy – No Coast Jazz (1960)

Miles Davis – Sorcerer (1967)

  “Everything was worth a trial, just to see. Picasso had the curiosity of the juggler seeking the ball best suited to his hand.” Pierre Descargues   “You get the right guys to play the right thing at the right time and you got a motherfucker. You got everything you need.” Miles Davis   Drawing … Continue reading Miles Davis – Sorcerer (1967)

Boogaloo Joe Jones – Right On Brother (1970)

Blending a soul-jazz sensibility with driving funk-rock rhythms, guitarist Boogaloo Joe Jones (Ivan Joseph Jones to his parents) tapped into a style that may have been slightly out of step with popular tastes of the early 70s but has since found a new and enthusiastic online audience who find themselves exposed to an abundance of … Continue reading Boogaloo Joe Jones – Right On Brother (1970)

Sonny Criss – This Is Criss! (1966)

It was Charlie Parker who first unlocked the alto-saxophone, enabling it to mimic a musical ribbon that freely rippled and twirled in the thermal updraft created by the rapid-fire chord changes of late-40s bebop. Many imitators were swept along in his wake, but only those who successfully developed their own sound despite that irresistible influence … Continue reading Sonny Criss – This Is Criss! (1966)

Larry Young – Unity (1965)

Reid Miles’ cover designs for Blue Note were very often innovative and many are now regarded as iconic, but few are as striking and timeless as his artwork for Larry Young’s Unity, the organist’s second release for the label. Stacked bold black capitals in sans-serif type on a plain white background. Blood-orange circles bouncing inside … Continue reading Larry Young – Unity (1965)

The Greyboy Allstars – West Coast Boogaloo (1995)

Plenty of funky jam-bands exist with the necessary skills to establish a deep groove and fill a dance floor, but many lack the virtuosity required to flood a tune with adventurous, confident solos that skim atop tricky but harmonically sophisticated arrangements. A mind can quickly wander when confronted with weak guitar noodling, metronomic drumming and … Continue reading The Greyboy Allstars – West Coast Boogaloo (1995)

Roland Kirk – Now Please Don’t You Cry, Beautiful Edith (1967)

Tragically immersed in a blind man's world of infinite darkness, Roland Kirk’s universe was forever dominated by sound. Gifted with a powerful personality, immense natural talent and a near-obsession with jazz, he seems to have always been destined to become a musical force. A saxophonist of apparently limitless dexterity, he was also an excellent flutist, pioneering … Continue reading Roland Kirk – Now Please Don’t You Cry, Beautiful Edith (1967)

Rusty Bryant – Fire Eater (1971)

A gold-plated classic from the soul-jazz vaults, tenor sax-man Rusty Bryant was clearly in a funky-as-hell mood when he cut this album at the Van Gelder studio for Prestige Records. It succeeds because there is nothing lightweight to be found here of the sort you might encounter on a Lou Donaldson LP, for example. Three … Continue reading Rusty Bryant – Fire Eater (1971)

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)

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)