You probably know the “Mod Jazz” drill by now: 24 cuts that have the feel of a smoky early 60s basement about them, with plenty of jazz attitude, a touch of the blues (as Bobby “Blue” Bland might have sung) and a pinch of latin spice. It’s the sort of music that makes you want to don a midnight blue mohair two-piece with some well polished Bass Weejuns and take to the dancefloor.
Floyd White’s ‘Another Child Lost’ is a slice of jazzy R&B which should have been released on the Invader label in 1965 but for some reason remained on the shelf. The Nightbeats featured the vocals of Jerry Fisher who later went on to replace David Clayton-Thomas in Blood, Sweat & Tears. They were signed to Musicor and ‘Leavin’ Town’ was just one of a host of tracks that they left behind in the vaults. Not unreleased, but extremely rare, is ‘Hard Working Girl’ recorded by Clarence Daniels with Obie Jessie for Modern’s Affiliated subsidiary; which takes a big bow to Oscar Brown Jr and sounds magnificent in master tape splendour with added run-out grooves.
The spectre of Ramsey Lewis and his soulful piano are as ever present, notably on Dave Hamilton’s ‘In The Dark’ and the TKOs’ ‘Fat Man’. We’ve also got bluesy jazz rarities from the West Coast by Billy Larkin, Reuben Wilson and Bobby Jenkins, plus instrumentals by Chuck Higgins, the Pac-Keys, the Five Counts and others.
The Prestige label was the home of “blue collar jazz”: the sound of lounges, diners and bars throughout industrial black America. Recorded in Rudy Van Gelder’s New Jersey studio, the sound he could get on a tightly rocking small combo is incomparable. We have six fine examples of his work, including the in-demand ‘Nature Boy’ by Etta Jones and Shirley Scott’s take on Horace Silver’s ‘Sister Sadie’.
All in all, another set of Mod Jazz winners.
By Dean Rudland