A grooving bag of wonderful soul jazz CDs released over the past few years.

Alive & Kickin’ – Organissimo (Big O)
A live organ trio recording that burns, shouts and screams, with the occasional pause for the cause (Zappa’s catchy “Blessed Relief”). A New Orleans current runs through it, and the 18:40 jam of “Pumpkin Pie” harkens back to the glory days of Grant Green’s extended live jams.

Never Can Say Goodbye: The Music of Michael Jackson –Joey DeFrancesco (HighNote)
Aided by Paul Bollenback on guitar, Joey D mixes pop and jazz with a rock feeling and very often creates something new from a sampling of the King of Pop’s greatest hits.

Live at Voce – Steve Gadd (Varese Fontana)
More Joey D and Bollenback with Rochester’s lead drummer, plus the bari of Ronnie Cuber. Nice live club ambiance, excellent and diverse tune selection, grooves that are constantly in there like swimwear.

The Groover – Mike LeDonne (Savant)
If Charles Earland was the Mighty Burner, LeDonne proves he’s the Mighty Groover here. LeDonne’s working band with the incredible Peter Bernstein, guitar, and Eric Alexander on tenor in a most soulful mood.

Spiral – Dr. Lonnie Smith (Palmetto
A classic organ trio outing from the Turbanator, ranging from ballads to bad-ass post bop, with a few dollops of funk.

California Concert: The Hollywood Palladium, 40thAnniversary Edition (Sony Masterworks)
Hubbard, Turrentine, Hank Crawford, Johnny “Hammond” Smith and many more. Beautifully remastered. “Red Clay,” “Sugar,” previously unreleased versions of “So What” and “Straight Life.” Over 150 minutes of the CTI heyday, live. ‘Nuff said!.

Party Hats – Will Bernard (Palmetto)
There’s no pandering to the groove here: musical integrity + giving up the funk = Will Bernard.

Don’t Mess with Mister T: James Taylor Quarter Plays Motown – James Taylor (Dome)
A dozen covers from Stevie to Marvin, inventively delivered in the pocket by the other James Taylor, the one from across the pond.

Security – Antibalas (Anti)
Taking Fela further, Antibalas finds its own voice with longer jams.

Mr. Patterson’s Hat – Papa Grows Funk (Funky Krewe)
N’awlins blues, soul, funk and jazz, with just a touch of shredded guitar on top.

Folk Music – Deep Blue Organ Trio (Origin)
Bluesy Windy City jazz with mellow, simmering solos from guitarist Bobby Broom and Chris Foreman on the B3.

Battery Milk – Mike Dillon’s Go-Go Jungle (Hyena)
The first track sees Dillon’s vibes go go-go, and then it just gyrates wonderfully out of control from there.




Join Me for The soul jazz Spectrum on Jazz 90.1

Groove Alchemy – Stanton Moore (Telarc)
Call it a history of groove from a drummer who lives “in the pocket.” The usual totally gellin’ chemistry between Moore, Robert Walter, and Will Bernard.

Song for the Soul – Radam Schwartz & Conspiracy for Positivity (Arabesque)
Schwartz’ quartet teams up with vocalist Miles Griffith, who conjures up that Andy Bey with Gary Bartz-type of spiritual soul, for a diverse set with a good mix of groove and inspiration.

I’m New Here – Gil Scott-Heron (XL)
Like some of Sly Stone’s vocals, Scott-Heron’s life and times are clearly displayed in his voice. It’s a bleak, very real record with a very contemporary vibe.

Rubber Soul – Soulive (Royal Family)
Soulive meets the Beatles. Lennon and McCartney wrote harmonically rich material and memorable melodies, which aids the groovers’ efforts with these 11 tunes. 

Backatown– Trombone Shorty (Verve Forecast)
The first thing that hits you is the energy and spirit. It’s New Orleans brass band that harkens back at times to the horn rock of 10 Wheel Drive and Chase. Jazz, funk, rock remixed that’s like a past-due utility bill: it’ll put your lights out! 

Back Home – Pat Bianchi (Doodlin’)
Organist with Rochester roots goes on a Larry Young-esque excursion. Especially inspired ideas and blowing from Wayne Escoffery on tenor.

III – Budos Band (Daptone)
Tighter horns, better Afrobeats, relentless funk. The Budos Band's finest effort to date.
The Godfathers of Groove – Reuben Wilson, Bernard Purdie & Grant Green, Jr. (18th & Vine)
Traditional soul jazz merges with harder funk – with titles like “The Okiedoke” and “The Flipity Flop” how can you miss?!?!

Live: The Authorized Bootleg – Joey Defrancesco (Concord)
Not since Terry Gibbs’ Dream Band have elderly standards been reimagined with such spirit and swing.

Magic Tales – Radam Schwartz (Arabesque)
The N.J. educator and organist returns to create a sweet, soulful sound paying homage to the Mighty Burner.

Don’t Mess with Mister T: James Taylor Quarter Plays Motown – James Taylor (Dome)
A dozen covers from Stevie to Marvin, inventively delivered in the pocket by the other James Taylor, the one from across the pond.

What Happened to Television? – Greyboy All Stars (SciFidelity)
Funk that’s more diverse than relentless, and that’s a good thing – at least in this case.

And One Fabulous Reissue...
Black Talk / Black Drops – CharlesEarland (BGP/import)
Back-in-the-day, old-school goodness from Earland, Virgil Jones, Idris Muhammed, Houston Person and others – two true soul-jazz classics on one disc.


Ask WIKIPEDIA what soul jazz is, and it says, "Soul jazz is a development of jazz incorporating strong influences from blues, soul, gospel, and rhythm and blues in music for small groups, often an organ trio featuring a Hammond organ."

Well, okay. Can't argue with that. But we can expand on it in terms of what The Soul Jazz Spectrum plays. To paraphrase Dick Clark, "It's got to have a good groove and you should be able to dance to it." While many soul jazz albums of the '60s and '70s tossed in a ballad or two for balance, we're not about that at the SJS. It's more of a relentless groove that we favor. 

You could also call it jazz with a good beat. Jazz that swings in a funky way. Jazz so moving that you can't sit still. It's more than jazz that swings, there's got to be that soulful groove that brings along those elements of gospel, R'n'B, soul, and blues. Or in just two words: Horace Silver. And, we should add, on the Soul Jazz Spectrum, we also mix in some soul and blues tracks that feature that same vibe to create a soul +  jazz gumbo.

And going beyond Horace, here is a list of 10 soul jazz artists to check out because they embody the definition above. (They all have non-soul jazz recordings, but are masters of the groove.

  • Jimmy Smith
  • Rusty Bryant
  • Grant Green
  • O'Donel Levy
  • Boogaloo Joe Jones
  • ​Lonnie Smith
  • Eddie Harris
  • Jack McDuff
  • Jimmy McGriff
  • Eddie Roberts

Fred Wesley of JB's and James Brown fame, with the younger, more hairful Chuck Ingersoll.


If you enjoy organ trios and jazz that you can dance to, check out the Soul Jazz Spectrum. You can listen online via our streaming audio feed. Please join me this Sunday night.

To listen to a pre-recorded Soul Jazz Spectrum show, just click below.

Jimmy Smith. Grant Green. Greyboy. Soulive. New Cool Collective. Boogaloo Joe Jones. Ron Levy. Prince. James Brown. It's the soul jazz sound from back in the day to the present, every Sunday night.

Listen at Jazz 90.1 in Rochester, or catch the stream worldwide at jazz901.org.

Drawing on an extensive CD and vinyl collection, I program one in-the-pocket, movin', groovin' hour of funk and soul jazz from 9 'til 10 pm Eastern Time US, right after The Blues Spectrum with Jim McGrath. It's where the groove survives and thrives.