Various Artists

Organ and Soul

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During the late '50s, Blue Note was primarily known for two styles of jazz: hard bop and soul-jazz. Hard bop had all the critical credibility, since it evolved from demanding be-bop, but soul-jazz (which was essentially an outgrowth of hard bop) never quite demanded the same respect at the time, since it concentrated on blues and grooves. As Organ and Soul (1956-1967) proves, that elitist mentality was a little misguided, since the soul-jazz Blue Note recorded during this decade was every bit as vital -- and sounds every bit as fresh -- as its hard bop cousin. The compilers of Organ and Soul chose 17 soul-jazz tracks with hardcore jazz credentials; although these tracks groove, they most certainly have intricate instrumental passages that only stuffy critics would dismiss as fluff. If anything, this double-disc set makes an excellent argument that soul-jazz is every bit as difficult to execute properly as hard-bop, since the musicians have to maintain a groove in addition to weaving complex solos; not necessarily the easiest thing to do. And it makes that argument by featuring cuts led by Jimmy Smith, Baby Face Willette, Fred Jackson, Don Wilkerson, Ike Quebec, Freddie Roach, Big John Patton, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, Lou Donaldson, Donald Byrd, Stanley Turrentine, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, and Hank Mobley. Furthermore, the familiar is balanced with dynamic lesser-known cuts, resulting in a collection that is essential to neophytes and skeptical purists as well.