Soul and Jazz and Funk Latest

Doing his dance in the UK - saxophonist KENNY GARRETT speaks to SJF ahead of his headline performance at next weekend's Ealing Jazz Festival.

Monday, 24 July 2017 19:01 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


As a graduate cum laude of the legendary Jazz Messengers - drummer Art Blakey's famous long-running group dubbed the 'Hard Bop Academy' - KENNY GARRETT can attest to having had one of the best educations that jazz has to offer. But Blakey, whose group ran from 1954 to his death in 1990, wasn't the only master that the Detroit-born alto saxophonist received valuable experience and pearls of wisdom from. Although he spent two years with the drum meister, he enjoyed an even longer period - five years to be exact - with arguably the greatest band leader of them all in jazz: the mighty Miles Davis, during his late electric period. He joined the trumpeter's band in 1986, toured the world with him several times, and also played on several albums, including 1988's late masterpiece, 'Amandla.'

Garrett remembers those days fondly and is deeply appreciative of what he gleaned from that time. "I learned so much from him," he says with a tincture of solemnity and reverence in his voice. In his prime, Davis could be a hard, enigmatic taskmaster - he once punched John Coltrane for nodding off on the bandstand - but Garrett found the opposite was true. Perhaps the 'Dark Magus' had mellowed with age. "Anyone who gives you 10 or 15 minutes solos must have a lot of respect for you," opines the 56-year-old Detroit saxophonist recalling his time with Davis...

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 July 2017 09:25



Monday, 24 July 2017 15:01 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altSoul connoisseurs are all aware of E.R.I.C. (Extra Rich In Class), the performing alter ego of soul man ERIC HARRIS. Eric works out of New York and his recorded legacy to date consists of a series of themed EPs which evoke the spirit of the classic soul of artists like Luther Vandross, Bill Withers and Barry White. His 2011 outing 'Betcha Didn't Know' won him lots of fans in Europe while his song 'The ATM' (possibly the only song about the hole in the wall?) showed the man's background in banking and his penchant for the quirky.

Last year his 'The Nightlife' EP kept his fans well happy, with one track – the sweet dancer 'Nightlife' garnering loadsa love. Cutting to the proverbial chase, UK modern soul reissue specialist, SOUL JUNCTION RECORDS have licensed the tune and released it on a lovely vinyl 45 and 'Nightlife' has lost none of its magic. Great stuff! As a bonus, the B side shows a different side to Mr Harris. The Soul Junction people have opted for the more balladic 'Backstage' as the flip. Originally issued in 2013, it shows why E.R.I.C is in such demand as Luther V tribute.

E.R.I.C.'s 'Nightlife'/'Backstage' is out now on Soul Junction.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 July 2017 09:26



Monday, 24 July 2017 07:05 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altThe sad extension of our recent news item on Motown veteran BOBBY TAYLOR (see below) is the singer has died aged 83. It's reported that Bobby died on Saturday 22 July at a hospital in Hong Kong, where he'd been living for the last several years. Bobby had been undergoing treatment for leukaemia and tumours in his spine.

Bobby Taylor was born in Washington, D.C., to parents of Puerto Rican and Native American heritage and, we're told, he lived in the same neighbourhood as Marvin Gaye. He served in the Korean War as an army cook but music was his first love. His early bands included the 4 Pharaohs, Daddie and the Bachelors and one he provocatively called Four Niggers & A Chink ... the last being guitarist Tommy Chong (later, of course, of Cheech and Cong fame). Other band members included Tommie Melton, Wes Henderson, Bernie Sneed, and drummer Floyd Sneed (later of Three Dog Night). They eventually pitched up in Calgary, Canada where they were known as the Calgary Shades. The name referenced the fact that the band was interracial. In 1962, after playing a gig in Vancouver, they adopted the less controversial name Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers.

The band signed with Motown and enjoyed their biggest hit with the classic 'Does Your Mama Know About Me'. Motown execs felt Taylor was a better prospect as a solo performer and indeed he enjoyed some success with songs like as 'I Am Your Man' and 'Malinda'.

The launch of his solo career coincided with his "discovery" of the Jackson 5. In '68 Taylor saw the Jacksons and brought them to the attention of Motown bosses (Motown official histories, of course, give the credit to Diana Ross) and indeed Bobby produced the Jackson 5's earliest recordings for the label. It's reported that those sessions often featured arguments between Bobby and Jacksons' controlling father, Joe. Berry Gordy felt the Jackson 5's early Motown songs were "too old-fashioned," and he replaced Taylor with The Corporation, a production group of Deke Richards, Fonce Mizell, Freddie Perren and Gordy himself, for the band's biggest hits. Taylor was later to comment: "I'm not an ass-kisser. I was turning the Jackson 5 into a classic soul act... BG didn't like that. He had ideas of his own. He wanted Michael doing more bubblegum material. He sent me packing."

Taylor resumed a solo career (interrupted after treatment for throat cancer) and he reunited briefly with The Vancouvers in the 1980s for a recording in the UK with Ian Levine. In the early 2000s Bobby moved to Beijing then relocated to Hong Kong where he sang in night clubs. In his last interview with the South China Morning Post he said: "I have 12 kids, met three presidents and, in general, I wouldn't change a thing."


Last Updated on Monday, 24 July 2017 07:15



Saturday, 22 July 2017 07:40 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altThough few details have been made public, it's been reported that L C COOKE, brother of Sam Cooke, has died at the age of 84. Jody Klein, president of ABKCO Records (owners of Cooke's SAR Records archive) posted: "It's with a sad heart that I inform you of the passing of our great friend L.C. Cooke whose talents, humanity and charm we shall all miss."

L C (no one's ever got to the bottom of the meaning of the initials, though the singer says they mean "loads of charm") was born in 1932, two years after Sam. He was the fifth of 10 children and along with Sam and two sisters, their father, Reverend Charles Cook (note no final "e" on the name: Sam added that later and L C used both spellings) coached them into a gospel group, The Singing Children. They later became The Nobleairs and then The Highway Q.C.'s before L C quit and joined The Soul Stirrers. That was in 1951. L C later joined the Magnificents (pictured below) who enjoyed moderate success with 'Up On The Mountain'.

Cooke then moved (solo) to Chess/Checker before signing with brother Sam's, SAR label. Several singles were released on L C and an album was pencilled in for 1964 release but Sam's murder not only stymied that, but put an end to all SAR activities.

Back in 2014 ABKO Records issued a retrospective of L C Cooke. The sleeve notes reveal that L C hankered to be a pop star; he says he never was a soul singer. However, listen and you'll hear an obvious similarity to Sam's soul styling. With Bobby Womack on guitar on several tracks, the collection is a treasure trove for vintage soul fans with, maybe, 'The Wobble' (a modest hit) standing out – Motown meets Major Lance! The compilation, by the way, includes Cooke's Checker single and a post SAR recording he made for Destination Records


Last Updated on Saturday, 22 July 2017 07:47



Thursday, 20 July 2017 20:16 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altEarlier this year all the credible indie soul charts Stateside were topped by a lovely modern soul beater, 'Fall In Love'. The cut combined the best of old school soul with a classy modern groove. The artists were Kansas City duo SOUL REVIVAL - singer/songwriter Derick Pierre and producer/musician Desmond "D. Professor" Mason. There's certainly soul chemistry between the twosome 'cos 'Fall In Love' is the real deal and must be investigated.

Soul Revival, though, are no one trick ponies. Their follow up is the equally excellent 'Comeback' – a sweet soul ballad that "Professor" Mason describes as: "a classic begging-and-pleading song from a man's point of view". Put more simply it's a classic old school soul ballad and like the aforementioned, upbeat 'Fall In Love' those who really care about classy modern soul really should investigate.

You can do so @

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 July 2017 20:20




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