Once you're a legend, it must be a legendary drag living up to your own reputation. After years of setting distinctive beats for King Curtis, Aretha Franklin, scores of Atlantic sessions and almost every acid-jazzer, drummer Bernard Purdie has a legendary reputation as the funk drummer. Trouble is the man earned his rep while he was young. Now, no matter how good his grooves get, they all have to measure up to his funky past.
Soul To Jazz II isn't much of a funk disc. But it's a successful soul-jazz exploration – which is exactly what it sets out to be – and something of an improvement over last year's Soul To Jazz.
The guests make Soul To Jazz II what it is. Check it out: Stanley Turrentine ("Motherless Child," "La Place Street"), Hank Crawford ("La Place Street," "Nobody Knows," "Joshua," "Mr. Magic" and "Amen") and Vincent Herring ("New Orleans Strut," "Jubilation" and "Shaft"). Plus, soul stalwart Junior Mance trades places with Benny Green in the piano chair; Atlantic sessioneer Cornell Dupree is on guitar, and former David Murray funk partner Stanley Banks is on electric bass.
Themes favor spirituals, from such traditionals as "Motherless Child," "Nobody Knows," "Amen" and "Joshua" to Mance's more contemporary "Jubilation." The soul tunes (Turrentine's "La Place Street," "Mr. Magic" and "Shaft") celebrate the powerhouse soul the sax leads generate.
The best bits are, of course, funky: Jack DeJohnette's "New Orleans Strut" and "Joshua" (which starts just like Grant Green's 1962 version and even has Crawford starting his solo the same way the guitarist did). But, annoyingly, there are times when the groove seems to drag so deliberately ("Mr. Magic," "Shaft"), you just want to kick these guys into gear somehow.
Reminiscent of the Bob Porter Milestone productions of the last ten years, Soul To Jazz II isn't as earth-shattering or hip-shaking as the premise promises. But the ultimate joy is hearing three soul sax giants (Hank Crawford especially) waxing eloquently in their own mighty soulful way.
Tracks:Motherless Child; New Orleans Strut; La Place Street; Nobody Knows; Jubilation; Joshua; Mr. Magic; Theme From "Shaft"; Amen.Collective
Collective Stanley Turrentine: tenor sax; Hank Crawford, Vincent Herring: alto sax; Howard Johnson: baritone sax; Jack Waltrath: trumpet; Junior Mance, Benny Green: piano; Cornell Dupree: guitar; George Naha: rhythm guitar; Stanley Banks: electric bass; Bernard Purdie, Jack DeJohnette: drums; Pancho Morales: congas; Benny Diggs Singers: vocals.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.