When the word Jazz comes to mind, you might automatically think of Cliff Huxtable spinning some old Duke Ellington records, or be so young you don’t even know what the hell jazz even is. If this is the case, listen up. What I’m talking about is that late 1960’s Organ Soul Jazz. This is the funky stuff from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s that inspired classic hip hop tracks by the Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill, A Tribe Called Quest and DJ Premier. I don’t listen to much hip hop these days but I know there’s some current, heavily jazz-sampled records from guys like Wiz, Curren$y, Joey Badass and Bronson, so we might as well go back to the roots a bit for those who care to know.
First let me get sidetracked by saying that I believe good music should lead you to more good music and there aren’t many better examples of this than with jazz musicians. The 1990’s hip hop albums lead me to Prestige and Blue Note, which led me to even more albums by those same musicians who cross-pollinated within the labels. Bernard Purdie played with James Brown in the mid 1960’s and later recorded his own albums for Prestige in addition to drumming on Gene Ammons, Charles Kynard, Rusty Bryant and Sonny Phillips records.
When we talk about the beginnings of the funky stuff, two record labels come to mind: Blue Note and Prestige. Today I’m focusing on Prestige and specifically the Legends Of Acid Jazz series of releases, but these comments apply to both record labels. In many cases, you’ll find these same artists have recorded on both labels. For the sake of keeping this article and the amount of images manageable, we’ll talk Prestige and address Blue Note and CTI down the road.
There is no specific reason for me to write about this now considering many readers seem to crave the most recent news at all times and these cd’s (yes cd’s), were released around 1997. Prestige took some of their funkiest albums of all time and paired them together to produce an incredible series of two-for-one releases under the Legends Of Acid Jazz titles. For the past few weeks I’ve been running on a massive playlist consisting of just these albums so I took this time to give them a shout-out and turn you on to guys like Boogaloo Joe Jones, Richard Groove Holmes and Johnny Hammond Smith.
The albums showcased in this series were primarily released between 1968 – 1971 and feature some of the funkiest jazz playing the world has ever heard. Let me also state that there are several styles and levels of funk which are too vast and complicated for me to sum up in this one paragraph. I just read that VH1 is airing a documentary on funk next month that will hopefully feature some legit scholars and do it justice. This here isn’t necessarily funk by Parliament standards, but does contain renditions of funk classics from The JB’s, Sly & The Family Stone and The Meters, in addition to some original hard-driving funky jazz that may or may not be recognizable to hip hop enthusiasts. It seems like more samples came from Blue Note and CTI records, but there are some pretty official breakbeats in this collection as well.
Although the Legends Of Acid Jazz series was repackaged with new covers since there are two albums per disc, I’ve included much of the original album art because they are classic, stylish and set the tone for the music they represent. But why keep reading about music when you can listen to it? A good place to start to get your beak wet with the Prestige acid jazz is this compilation entitled Ain’t It Funky Now.