The sharpest cuts for the keenest feet.
So “Mod Jazz” rides again does it? Well, if it does it will be on a pristine 1960 Vespa GS, very pure, with no gaudy additions, looking as sharp as it did when it came off the production line. It’s an early summer night, so as you ride between café and bar you can be observed in your midnight blue lightweight mohair. A quick espresso and off you go to the next spot, where the music that soundtracks the night is just kicking off. That is the essence of mod jazz and listening to this compilation will put you there.
As ever we provide a mix of known and unknown names, with records that would cost a small fortune, and others you could buy quite easily now you know what they are. Take Sammy Davis Jr and his take on the Tony Hatch song ‘I Know A Place’. The album it springs from is easy to find, but who would think to check out such an unpromising proposition. Yet Buddy Rich gets the party swinging and Sammy drags you along; who wouldn’t go there. It’s a similar vibe on Jimmy Witherspoon’s ‘Hey, Mrs Jones’ – big band brassiness and hip sangfroid from the singer. Nina Simone is even hipper with her Ray Charles answer-record ‘Come On Back, Jack’ – pure mod jazz dynamite!
Elsewhere we have all of our favourite jazzy sounds. If you want organ there’s the wonderful Memphis-based Playboy Five’s version of Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Spoonful’, Johnny “Hammond” Smith taking on Ray Charles, ‘High Heel Sneakers’ re-imagined by Jackie Ivory, and the wild sound of Rhonda Scott with the Eastern-influenced ‘Sha-Bazz’. We also have latin sounds from percussionist Montego Joe and trombonist Harold Betters, who takes it south of the border on ‘Hot Tamale Man’. We have brassy blues from Otis Spann, T-Bone Walker and Clarence Daniels’ band featuring Obie Jessie, and plenty of those instrumentals that owe more to soul than jazz but are an essential part of the mod jazz profile – including the Eddie Bo-produced ‘Timber’ by Candy Phillips, Jimmy Mayes & the Soul Breed’s ‘Pluckin’’ and Gate Wesley’s ‘Do The Thing’.
As ever we end with the coolest of closers – the Bobby Jenkins Quartet’s ‘What Is Love’, which takes you out into the breeze of the small hours, onto another adventure.