In 1988 a youngish Ady Croasdell, who had reclaimed his moniker from that imposter Harboro Horace, put together a vinyl album of tracks from Fantasy, one of the world’s richest sources of jazz dance grooves. Fantasy’s labels included Prestige, Riverside and Battle and their artists numbered Mongo Santamaria, Johnny “Hammond” Smith, Brother Jack McDuff and Mose Allison; quite reasonably the LP was titled “Cool”.
Towards the end of the last millennium, that project was transferred to CD. In the intervening years, the word “cool” had been adopted by every mother’s son … and quite a few five year-old girls; a new title was required. Ace’s biggest brains wrestled with the dilemma and when the plume of white smoke emerged from the Harlesden headquarters’ chimney, two words were emblazoned on the forthcoming release sheet: “Mod Jazz”.
“Cool” formed the ethos of the operation, but there was a chance to expand the tracks, artists and even styles. Sultry vocals were added from Pat Bowie and Mark Murphy. Darling of mod revivalists Billy Hawks had his ‘Whip It On Me’ added and Eddie Jefferson got to recount the fascinating tale of ‘Filthy McNasty’. With a gorgeous colour photo of Cal Tjader, vibing for all he was worth, the package was even better-received than its vinyl forefather. Demand being high, a follow-up titled “Mo’ Mod Jazz” soon hit the shops. This collection stretched the jazz links further; B.B. King, Little Johnny Taylor, Junior Wells and Lightnin’ Hopkins got their hipper numbers alongside the soul jazz of Booker T and Johnny Gilliam and some Latin barrio grooves from the Brown Brothers Of Soul.
The mod cognoscenti may have been getting edgy about the next abuse of artistic licence as suede-booted jazzer Dean Rudland was seconded to join me in a compiling partnership for the coming “Even Mo’ Mod Jazz”. Sanity was restored with artists of the ilk of Lou Donaldson and Count Basie. Dean added a funkier flavour from Karen Hernandez, Sharon Cash and Jean Dushon and the early days of the 6TS R&S society were recalled with the Young-Holt, Googie Rene and Bobby Bland selections.
By then we were using all sorts of musical sources and influences to create our jazz, soul, blues and Latin stew, then a licensing deal gave us access to the fabulous Atlantic vault. On “Yet Mo’ Mod Jazz” we indulged ourselves among the aural splendour of Les McCann, Ray Charles, Herbie Mann, Charles Lloyd, Esther Phillips and the MJQ.
We then held off for five years for “The Return Of Mod Jazz”, a killer comp with Oscar Brown Jr, Gene McDaniels and Hank Jacobs among the contributors. Old friends such as the inexhaustible Mose Allison, Pucho and Googie Rene were welcomed back with open arms. “Further Adventures…” and “Mod Jazz Forever” then came along in three year gaps. By my reckoning, look out for the next swingin’ package some time around 2015. Meanwhile, for those who can’t wait, the coloured vinyl double album version of the original “Mod Jazz” comp features that great Cal Tjader shot in a glorious gatefold package.
By Ady Croasdell