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What are the Top 10 Soul Jazz Tunes?


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I mostly dig the first 4 and play them on my solo piano gigs. I can't seem to find any more that work for me like the first 4. Maybe you can help me extend my short list with some real good ones?

 

1) Work Song

2) Moanin'

3) Mercy Mercy Mercy

4) Cantaloupe Island

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5) The In Crowd

6) Sidewinder

7) Jive Samba

8) Watermelon Man

9) The Preacher

10 ?

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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Mr. Magic, The Cat, Sugar, Green Onions, Comin Home, Put It Where You Want It, Soul Serenade, Wade In The Water, Thieves In The Temple, Memphis Soul Stew, Memphis Underground.

 

There's lots more but this should give you some ideas.

 

Bob

Hammond SK1, Mojo 61, Kurzweil PC3, Korg Pa3x, Roland FA06, Band in a Box, Real Band, Studio One, too much stuff...
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Sidewinder is really tough to pull off as a solo piano tune. I've tried it, but never been happy with the results. But I've always found The Preacher and Watermelon Man to be very conducive to solo playing. They're both flexible and will work with many different grooves and approaches, so experiment and find one that works for you.

 

Others:

 

Gravy Waltz - one of my faves. Very attainable technically, and harmonically simple but engaging.

Hard Times (Fathead Newman/Ray Charles) - another one that just sits nicely and almost plays itself.

Hip Hug Her - more soul than jazz, but I routinely get away with it on jazz gigs. A lot of guys write it off as an organ tune not suitable for piano, but there are ways to make it work.

Yeah! (Horace) - the jazziest of my list, and fairly difficult to play, but a lot of fun once you've got it down.

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I'm amazed how similar the OP's list is to mine.

 

Good Thread.

 

"Sunny" works as a jazz song, very flexible.

I also do Booker T's "Time is Tight", but switch to organ. Nice change of pace.

Yamaha Motif XF6, Yamaha AN200, Alesis Micron, Sonar X3, Arturia Microbrute, Behringer Model D, Yamaha UX-3 Acoustic Piano, assorted homemade synth modules
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I really like One Hundred Ways the changes are marvelous. Another album to check out is Black Talk by Charles Earland, just about all of that even though some white tunes (Aquarius, More today than yesterday,)these have been converted to soulful tunes.

 

Listen Here Eddie Harris, of course Compared to What.

 

All great stuff.

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There's no rule saying that the soul-jazz repetoire has to be the same as it was in 1972. Lots of Steely Dan fits easily into the soul-jazz ambiance. Try Josie or the Fez, for instance. There's countless cool soul-jazz tunes that the average listener will not recognize, but they're recognize The Dan.

 

It would be interesting to go into what techniques best translate the soul jazz feel to the solo piano context. I sometimes use a modified stride where the root is on the one and the chord hits sort of on the two-and-a, just anticipating the third beat.

Gigging: Crumar Mojo 61, Hammond SKPro

Home: Vintage Vibe 64

 

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It would be interesting to go into what techniques best translate the soul jazz feel to the solo piano context.

 

Good call! Obviously it depends on the tune, but for straight-eighth stuff, I often use a Booker-inspired two-part left hand (big surprise), with the lower fingers playing a bass line and the upper ones playing a chordal part. For a tune like, say, "Hip Hug Her," that lets me capture, if not the exact notes, at least the vibe of both the bass line and the guitar part, while I play the melody with the right hand.

 

That approach can work for swingier tunes as well, though it's nice to break it up with just walking a line in the left hand. "Hard Times" works well with a mixture of those. For "Gravy Waltz," I typically play one chorus walking, one chorus stride, and one with the Booker left hand, which is a nice way to build all the way through.

 

A Henry Butler stride/funk can work too. I use that on "Hallelujah I Love Her So," and also on Prince's "Kiss" (speaking of modernizing the repertoire slightly).

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Has anyone noticed that some melodies seem to "resist audience recognition " more than other melodies ?

 

In crowd was done on piano. So assuming crowd knew the tune it should be easily recognized

 

I can't think off the top of my head which tunes I have rejected while on a gig

1 because we had no one to sing it

2 I did not think the melody was clearly distinguishable enough for a piano rendition

3. I think it is in the nature of the certain melodies/harmonies, that without

hearing the actual instrument that made it popular, and or the rhythm, that distinguishing the melody easily is more challenging. Of course a musician would recognize it.. but a non musician, I don't know.

Anyone relate ?

edit I am guessing but Hip Hugger on solo ac piano?!!

 

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Has anyone noticed that some melodies seem to "resist audience recognition " more than other melodies ?

 

In crowd was done on piano. So assuming crowd knew the tune it should be easily recognized

 

I can't think off the top of my head which tunes I have rejected while on a gig

1 because we had no one to sing it

2 I did not think the melody was clearly distinguishable enough for a piano rendition

3. I think it is in the nature of the certain melodies/harmonies, that without

hearing the actual instrument that made it popular, and or the rhythm, that distinguishing the melody easily is more challenging. Of course a musician would recognize it.. but a non musician, I don't know.

Anyone relate ?

edit I am guessing but Hip Hugger on solo ac piano?!!

 

Folks recognize In Crowd when you finally get to the A-C ascending hits at the very end. Or maybe only the "in crowd" gets it, ha.

Gigging: Crumar Mojo 61, Hammond SKPro

Home: Vintage Vibe 64

 

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Has anyone noticed that some melodies seem to "resist audience recognition " more than other melodies ?

 

In crowd was done on piano. So assuming crowd knew the tune it should be easily recognized

 

I can't think off the top of my head which tunes I have rejected while on a gig

1 because we had no one to sing it

2 I did not think the melody was clearly distinguishable enough for a piano rendition

3. I think it is in the nature of the certain melodies/harmonies, that without

hearing the actual instrument that made it popular, and or the rhythm, that distinguishing the melody easily is more challenging. Of course a musician would recognize it.. but a non musician, I don't know.

Anyone relate ?

edit: I am guessing but Hip Hugger on solo ac piano?!!

 

Folks recognize In Crowd when you finally get to the A-C ascending hits at the very end. Or maybe only the "in crowd" gets it, ha.

 

Interesting observation about audiences. You think they notice that cool A-C climax, eh?

So, if a say for example, a soul type tune does NOT have an atypical ( atypical for soul ) chord progression and rhythmic thrust like In Crowd's A- C , chances are stronger the audience members will less likely recognize the tune!

It can't just be a funky blues that is rendered on the piano!

In other words, people hear us play funky blues all the time, what distinguishes a soulful MELODY from a funky solo!

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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"Soul" was Jazz musicians' way of trying to make commercially accessible music using the flavor of 60s/early 70s Soul/R&B.

 

Surely, a few original tunes resulted from that movement. But, the only audience I can imagine wanting to hear those tunes would be residing in an assisted living facility. :laugh:

 

Otherwise, by extension, Jazz musos today would be using current Pop/R&B/Hip-Hop music as the template for any type of "Soul" Jazz i.e. commercially accessible music.

 

Wait a minute...Smooth Jazz is the bastard cousin of that approach. :sick::laugh::cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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"Soul" was Jazz musicians' way of trying to make commercially accessible music using the flavor of 60s/early 70s Soul/R&B.

 

Surely, a few original tunes resulted from that movement. But, the only audience I can imagine wanting to hear those tunes would be residing in an assisted living facility. :laugh:

 

Otherwise, by extension, Jazz musos today would be using current Pop/R&B/Hip-Hop music as the template for any type of "Soul" Jazz i.e. commercially accessible music.

 

Wait a minute...Smooth Jazz is the bastard cousin of that approach. :sick::laugh::cool:

 

Couldn't disagree more. There is some astounding Jazzy Soul and soulful Jazz being made today.

Soul, R&B, Pop from Los Angeles

http://philipclark.com

 

King Super 20 Alto, Yamaha MX61, Roland VR-09, MicroKorg XL, Maschine Mikro, M-Audio ProKeys88sx, Roland MKS-50

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"Soul" was Jazz musicians' way of trying to make commercially accessible music using the flavor of 60s/early 70s Soul/R&B.

 

Surely, a few original tunes resulted from that movement. But, the only audience I can imagine wanting to hear those tunes would be residing in an assisted living facility. :laugh:

 

Otherwise, by extension, Jazz musos today would be using current Pop/R&B/Hip-Hop music as the template for any type of "Soul" Jazz i.e. commercially accessible music.

 

Wait a minute...Smooth Jazz is the bastard cousin of that approach. :sick::laugh::cool:

 

Interesting points esp the old people only interested in Soul music.

I do my share of old people work. This is not scientific, but I have noticed they go way back in time to their youth. They always sing out loud these tunes, ready?? "God Bless America" ( way before Soul music haha and what could be more of the Soul than "God bless America", ha ha this is funny stuff ) and "You Are My Sunshine", an OLD tune.

I sadly almost never play gigs where the nursing homes have African Americans- I am curious if your theory would "work".. playing The In Crowd in a nursing Home!

 

Smooth jazz, ah there is a topic. I knew and greatly respected Grover Washington. he is one of the greatest players I have ever known. having said that.. when I hear some smooth jazz, I ask myself this... "is it possible to play blue notes and licks, and yet not feel the Blues behind them?" Sadly, I think the weakness of Smooth jazz is this fact. People learning Blues scales etc, applying it in Smooth Jazz, and the music seeming disingenuous.

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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"Soul" was Jazz musicians' way of trying to make commercially accessible music using the flavor of 60s/early 70s Soul/R&B.

 

Surely, a few original tunes resulted from that movement. But, the only audience I can imagine wanting to hear those tunes would be residing in an assisted living facility. :laugh:

 

Otherwise, by extension, Jazz musos today would be using current Pop/R&B/Hip-Hop music as the template for any type of "Soul" Jazz i.e. commercially accessible music.

 

Wait a minute...Smooth Jazz is the bastard cousin of that approach. :sick::laugh::cool:

 

Couldn't disagree more. There is some astounding Jazzy Soul and soulful Jazz being made today.

 

May I ask you, in case ProfD is busy... what exactly do you disagree with?

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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