The night is dark, and crisp enough to require a dark blue woollen overcoat over your midnight blue two-button narrow-lapelled, slim-fitting suit. Your loafers are oxblood and polished to a shine that reflects well on the rest of your outfit. You’re looking for the perfect soundtrack for a night on the town, not just any town, but a city, a bustling metropolis lit by neon and a full of a million souls – although you only want to be seen with a small percentage, the ones who can share your outlook and need the right sort of sounds.
Fortunately for you the mod jazz crew are back in town and we have scoured the world to provide you with the perfect blend of jazz, with a touch of the blues, a shake of soul and a pinch of latin. Whether you are sipping a whisky sour in a wood-panelled bar, trying to created the perfect Mad Men moment, or working up a sweat, we have the number for you.
As usual, we pay only lip service to genre divides, and bring you lots of great jazz vocals, often with an R&B twist. Check Troy Dodds’ ‘The Real Thing’ (the B-side of a super-expensive Northern soul hit) or Floyd White’s ‘Finders Keepers’, lifted from a previously unreleased Invader session. Mod jazz favourite Mark Murphy turns up with the amazing rare 45-only ‘It’s Like Love’ and Clint Stacy, Bobby Jenkins and Little Bob all help keep the mod jazz quality high. On the female side we have the phenomenal Tobi Lark, who is known for her soul numbers but was a consummate jazz performer, as was Byrdie Green, who gives us her take on Freddie Hubbard’s ‘Return Of The Prodigal Son’.
A good mod jazz record needs plenty of roaring Hammond organ, which we give you by Brother Jack McDuff, Johnny “Hammond” Smith and the great Reuben Wilson with one of his earliest recordings. That other great Hammond exponent Billy Larkin sings like Georgie Fame and strokes some piano keys on ‘Looking’, which sounds rather like ‘Fever’, a song served up in a wonderful version by Buddy Guy. The Night Beats deliver a garage jazz take on ‘Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf Pt 2’ mod jazz regulars Hank Jacobs, Dave Hamilton and Johnny Lytle keep our toes tapping and our fingers clicking. As you leave the room to the previously unreleased British jazz cut ‘Sunshine Superman’ by Bocking, Robinson, Morais you will be feeling as sharp as ever. Another mod jazz miracle.
By Dean Rudland