Question for Jazz Experts

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Boplicity, May 23, 2003.

  1. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Is there music that is half way between "smooth" or "contemporary" jazz and "hard" jazz or "cool" jazz such as bebop and atonal jazz?

    The reason I ask is that I find smooth jazz less and less satisfying but still find much of hard jazz unpleasant. So what I need is something more challenging than Foreplay and The Rippingtons, but less dissonant, dischordant and strident than groups and soloists are commonly categorized as jazz artists. I still like music that has at least a nodding acquaintance with melody.

    If I were to guess what I am aiming for, it would be in the class of the Pat Metheny Group or Stan Getz' bossa nova work. Are there any other groups or soloists who reside in about that range? I prefer jazz guitar (like Metheny) and jazz piano (like George Shearing) to other instruments.

    I know our many jazz experts here can help me out.
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I would guess you would like the same stuff as my girfriend - her favourite is "Song for my Father" - by Horace Silver. Her words were - why can't all Jazz be like this? ;)

    I'll try to think of some more of my Jazz collection that she likes...most others are UK groups that you probably won't be able to get.
  3. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers - 'Moanin'


    Also, why not check out some artists from the "soul jazz" movement of the sixties. I'm thinking of people like Cannonball Adderley - 'Mercy, Mercy, Mercy', etc, or maybe some George Benson - something like 'The George Benson Cookbook'.

  4. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Thanks to you both. I'll check Horace Silver. That name is new to me. I do like George Benson; have been a fan for literally decades. "Soul jazz" does have an appealing ring to it.
  5. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I checked to get some sound bites of Horace Silver's music. I checked the album "Blowin' the blues Away" in particular. Come to find out, Silver is an artist I used to listen to waaaaaaay back in my high school days. In fact, I actually had a 78RPM vinyl album of his! Can't remember the name, though. It brought back memeories to hear his piano stylings again. However, isn't he considered more of a bebop artist?
  6. jdombrow

    jdombrow Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Here's a suggestion: Go to "" and start reading reviews. When something sounds interesting, go to a CD site and listen to the samples from the album. Buy what you like. You can also use for the "People Who Bought This, Also Bought Music By ..." feature. I rarely buy music that I haven't listened to first.

    Have fun,
  7. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    If you like guitar, how about some Wes Montgomery or Grant Green?
  8. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I think Metheny, Mike Stern and Wayne Krantz fit the bill. I also appreciated Andy Summers' last few albums - they are in the Mike Stern vein. If you like solo fingerstyle jazz guitar, definitely check out Tuck Andress and Martin Simpson.

    There are also "groove" acts like Charlie Hunter, Sex Mob, Soulive, Living Daylights, Happy Apple etc. who are a little more complex than the usual smoove jazz. (Yellowjackets straddles the line.) The one that's getting the Big Label Push these days is Bad Plus, but I don't really see why they're so great.

    The Rope-a-dope label puts together some interesting recordings pairing up jazzbos with neosoul types and everything else, e.g. Philadelphia Experiment, with Christian McBride, Amir Thompson and Uri Caine, and the Word, featuring steel guitarist Robert Randolph and the North Mississippi Allstars. Then there are the Flecktones, but you probably know about them already.

    A lot of labels have started trotting out these jam-jazz acts as an entry point for hippies and fratboys to expand the market for more traditional jazz.
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Y'know, I really liked Fourplay until Ritenour left. You might like 'em better with Carlton, they're a little edgier with him. I go see them just to see my MAIN man Nathan. He just rules and rules.
  10. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    Here's some info on the "soul jazz" movement for you - lifted from, which is always a great website to get lost in for an hour.

    "Soul-Jazz, which was the most popular jazz style of the 1960s, differs from bebop and hard bop (from which it originally developed) in that the emphasis is on the rhythmic groove. Although soloists follow the chords as in bop, the basslines (often played by an organist if not a string bassist) dance rather than stick strictly to a four-to-the bar walking pattern. The musicians build their accompaniment around the bassline and, although there are often strong melodies, it is the catchiness of the groove and the amount of heat generated by the soloists that determine whether the performance is successful. Soul-jazz's roots trace back to pianist Horace Silver, whose funky style infused bop with the influence of church and gospel music, along with the blues. Other pianists who followed and used similar approaches were Bobby Timmons, Junior Mance, Les McCann, Gene Harris (with his Three Sounds), and Ramsey Lewis. With the emergence of organist Jimmy Smith in 1956 (who has dominated his instrument ever since), soul-jazz organ combos (usually also including a tenor, guitarist, drummer, and an occasional bassist) caught on, and soulful players became stars, including Brother Jack McDuff, Shirley Scott, Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland, and Richard "Groove" Holmes, along with such other musicians as guitarists Grant Green, George Benson and Kenny Burrell; tenors Stanley Turrentine, Willis "Gator" Jackson, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, David "Fathead" Newman, Gene "Jug" Ammons, Houston Person, Jimmy Forrest, King Curtis, Red Holloway, and Eddie Harris; and altoist Hank Crawford. Despite its eclipse by fusion and synthesizers in the 1970s, soul-jazz has stayed alive and made a healthy comeback in recent years."

    The artists from the above paragraph that I can personally recommend checking out are:
    Horace Silver (ESSENTIAL!);
    Les McCann;
    Ramsey Lewis;
    Jimmy Smith (ESSENTIAL!);
    Brother Jack McDuff;
    George Benson;
    Stanley Turrentine.

    I must also give props to organist Lonnie Smith (not to be confused with Lonnie Listen Smith), who was a key member of George Benson's classic '60s quartet and has put out some solid soul-jazz and funky material under his own name. I like Think!

  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Something between "smooth" & "hard" Jazz in an electric setting-
    Early Tribal Tech or either of Gary Willis's solo albums
    Early Spyro Gyra(Incognito; City Kids)
    Yellowjackets(Four Corners up to Blue Hats)

    What happened between "Hard"(Bebop) or "Cool" & "Smooth" Jazz-
    -Hard Bop & its sub-genre, Soul Jazz/Funky Jazz
    -Post Bop
    -New Thing(Free Jazz)

    Have you checked out the latest Dave Holland Quintet material?
  12. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Wow! Thanks to you all for all the suggestions. This will keep me busy for quite awhile listening to sound bites at

    I already ama fan of organ jazz such as Jimmy Smith. I also like Stanley Turrentine (who I saw perform with his band not too long before his death) and of Ramsey Lewis. I don't know lonnie Smith, but will check him first.

    This will be lots of fun. maybe I'll discover a new hero.

    Again many thanks to all of you for your suggestions.
  13. Da_Niet


    Jan 23, 2003
    Boplicity wrote:
    So what I need is something more challenging than Foreplay and The Rippingtons, but less dissonant, dischordant and strident than groups and soloists are commonly categorized as jazz artists. I still like music that has at least a nodding acquaintance with melody.

    Actually, I know where you're coming from, because I used to feel the same way. I practically loathed groups like The Rippingtons, Foreplay, Yellowjackets, etc.! I couldn't STAND the way the music almost always had that airy, fruity keyboard sound that emasculated the sound of the rest of the had a seemingly over-produced, slick feel to it. I thought(and still do, to a degree) that real jazz was Monk, Montgomery, Bird 'n Diz,Blakey, Davis, Coltrane, and Metheny. But, when I actually saw guys like the former, LIVE, and saw that they could also do straight jazz as well as funk, caribbean, rock, blues, etc. then I began to change my way of thinking.

    I got into the roots of this "smooth jazz" and discovered Bob James(an accomplished musician, and hell of a nice guy), Weather Report, Return to Forever, Quincy Jones' albums of the 70s(great stuff, but hard to find all of it on CD. Yet still have them on vinyl), Herbie Hancock, Jaco Pastorius, Metheny, Mike Stern, Larry Carlton, and's officially called "smooth jazz" by some hot-shot record exec's who find it easier to market jazz to a larger audience. Ok, enough of that brief history lesson....basically, jazz is multi-faceted art with many "substyles"-if we can call them that-but it's still jazz. Whether it be Russ Freeman with The Rippingtons, or Eddie Harris, or The Jazz Mandolin Project, you find some great stuff in all of their creations. And, THAT is jazz! Labels, I find, are vague and pigeon-holing-which can do a great disservice to the artist(s).

    But, if I must, I will break down and offer a few suggestions of the sounds that I 'think' you might be interested in:
    Joshua Redman(in the small group settings--check out his "Wish" ain't new but it's a good one because it has Metheny and Haden.)
    John Scofield---jazzy, soulfoul, and interesting style
    Mike Stern(as already mentioned)
    Dave Benoit--pianist
    Danilo Perez--kicks ASS on the piano!
    Wynton Kelly with Wes Montgomery
    Jimmy Smith w/ Montgomery
    Gabor Szabo--Hungarian guitarist, with a unique, reflective sound

    I hope these help.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I would say 'Song for my Father' is definitely his most 'listenable' album, with its Latin rythms and great tunes and would start with that - I like Blowing the Blues, but it is more bop - influenced.

    Another artist my girlfriend likes is Freddie Hubbard - and in particular his crossover period - now this is the real fore-runner of smooth Jazz - Creed Taylor and his CTI label. Sky Dive is a great tune, along with First Light etc.

    There is also an album called Sunflower on CTI which my girlfriend likes under Mily Jackson's name - although it has all the same players : Fredie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham etc - they had a 'stable' of great musicians, who make up for the somewhat "arranged" nature of the music.
  15. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I sampled some of the Yellowjackets' new one, Time Squared(?)...sounds pretty hot.
    To be released tomorrow(I think).

    Did you ever cop Epitaph? you ever read yer TB mail?
  16. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    IMHO, Silver is more known for Hard Bop...more relatable to the masses & certainly not as "hard" as Bebop on the listener.
  17. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    The Yellowjackets are cool. There's some real jazz substance there, at least as much as Scofield's last coupla releases (which I like, BTW). I didn't care for them that much in their earliest incarnation, but since about The Spin (and starting a little before, with much of Four Corners and Politics), IMO they've been making some great music. To me, their "problem," if in fact it is one, is that their basic sound is so accessible that it makes it easy not to notice the other stuff going on. A lot of those tunes are complex and hard (not that that automatically makes something good), and there's really something to chew on. It ain't just two chords and a drum loop and an out-of-tune soprano sax.

    I've got the new CD but haven't listened to it yet. I can say that live, they burn. Haslip is an excellent player with a unique sound, and their long time drummer, Will Kennedy, was a monster, one of the relatively few who could swing and funk with equal acuity. Haven't heard the new guy yet (Marcus Baylor), but I'm sure he's no slouch.

    I particularly like The Spin, Greenhouse, and Dreamland. They also have a live double CD that's only available from I imagine that would be hot.
  18. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I'm no jazz expert, but IMO there's a lot of good stuff on Blue Note Records. I recently bought a great comp from them - "The Best Blue Note Album In The World" or something like that - and it would fit the bill, IMO.

    Have you heard Medeski, Martin and Wood?

    Also, check out Charlie Hunter and the Living Daylights. It's weird stuff, but "weird" in an almost "alternative" sense, so you may dig it.
  19. Art Blakey for sure!! Check out the stuff when Wayne Shorter was musical director - Ugetsu, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers on Impulse!, The Big Beat. Careful, tho, stuff like Free For All is pretty out.

    Yellowjackets are great, I always loved Jimmy Haslip. My faves are from Four Corners to The Spin.

    You might like some Charlie Hunter, Weather Report, Richard Bona, Mike Stern's 'Voices' record, Wes Montgomery, Bill Evans (the pianist).
  20. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999

    ...that's the understatement of the year(so far).


    Back to The Yellowjackets-
    I did like them in their early daze(Haslip, Ferrante, Robben Ford, & Ricky Lawson)...Ford left, they added Marc Russo; I still dug 'em.
    When William Kennedy came on-board...WHOA! The rhythm section went beyond the 1&3/2&4 backbeat Funk...I still like Politics & Four Corners; anything from The Spin to Blue Hats is worth checking into.
    And Bob Mintzer(a cool player/composer) was the icing on the cake.

    For a brief time, they got side-tracked(Club Nocturne & the follow-up was BO-RING attempt at radio-friendly jazzy-Pop.
    Mint Jam is good; Time Squared sounds decent, too.
    all IMO!