With July nearly upon us in the UK, with the occasional ray of sunshine and an easing in lock-down restrictions – it’s time to bring you our best albums to get the summer started! If you’re looking for a soundtrack for your Saturday barbecues, or to get your Sunday going, look no further – we’ve got you covered!
We’ve put together a list of favourite best albums for a groovy, hip-shaking and dancing summer day!
If you’re a fan of what we have picked out for you below be sure to join our monthly Jazz / Soul subscription!
Without further ado, here are our 5 best albums to get the summer started! As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts and favourites!
5. George Benson
When we think of smooth jazz, the majority of what we start hearing in our heads stems from Breezin’. This album’s influence on both, future musicians and the wider masses of those times, is hard to overstate. It’s the album that even non-Jazz fans will enjoy, and who knows, maybe even spark an interest to discover more of Jazz.
Both Benson and producer Tommy LiPuma understood what the masses wanted to hear and what would be accessible and attractive. Benson’s guitar acts as the perfect substitute for vocals, while his velvet sound lets the listener forget all about lyrics.
The album’s only vocal number was This Masquerade. Not only did the song climb to tenth place on the pop singles chart but it also landed Breezin a top spot in the album charts and Benson into the spotlight.
The moment the needle drops and we get into I Wanna Be Your Lover it’s hard to sit still and not bust a move or two to this record. Prince’s second album, which was considerably more accomplished and recognised than his debut is rock solid and comes with a message that Prince was a force not to be reckoned with. We think it belongs right up there in our top 5 Records to get the Summer Started!
The album’s a little bit eclectic, but in many ways shows the wide range of Prince’s influences. With Bambi, Prince gave listeners a taste of things to come, while I Feel For You was his evidence of having mastered that soulful disco funk sound. For anyone looking to understand why Prince was regarded to highly, we’d recommend starting here.
Meanwhile, drop the needle on this one on a sunny weekend!
3. Idris Muhammad
Turn this Mutha Out, 1977
This 1977 album by Idris Muhammad is a pretty large leap from his other popular album, Power of Soul. Aimed at more of an R&B and Disco audience rather than hard core jazz fanatics, the album brings us a number of infectious grooves which would both go on to be hits in the title track and Could Heaven Ever Be Like This.
If you’re a fan of some fast-paced African-inspired rhythms and grooves, this is the record for you. We can’t help but dance to this one every time it plays!
The album got a lot of recognition in the US, but was also widely acclaimed in the UK as well. We can picture an underground, dark disco in the late 70s just absolutely vibing to this with the crowd under Idris’s spell.
Stick this one on to turn the party up a few notches this summer!
2. Lou Donaldson
Alligator Bogaloo, 1967
Lou Donaldson is in our view absolutely synonymous with the words groove, soul and funky. Alligator Boogaloo is the result of Lou’s creativity and talent as an improviser.
The LP was recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio where Lou had finished recording five tracks, but was told that he was just a few minutes short of having a complete album. With no more compositions left for the recording date, he decided to quickly come up with an impromptu riff and let the band do the rest.
The simple, easy going and funky groove was absolutely infectious to the band, as well as to us as the lucky listeners and eventually became the title track. Put this baby on a Sunday morning and let it be the perfect start to your day!
1. George Duke
Brazilian Love Affair, 1979
It seems like so many major jazz musicians at some point dabbled with the music of South America or Africa in their own influences and creations – notably, think of Stan Getz for one. Brazilian Love Affair is the result of George Duke’s travel down to Brazil to record with local jazz and pop figures including Flora Purim and Milton Nascimento. It feels like the perfect record to round out our top 5 Records to get the Summer Started!
If you’re not familiar with George Duke – be sure to get acquainted as he’s an absolute genius who has played along side legends on a variety of genres including Cannonball Adderley, Frank Zappa, Stanley Clarke and Al Jarreau!
It’s an absolute statement and a tribute to a nation and a style. We absolutely love this album and at any time are feeling a little bit down or low on energy can rely on it to be the most foolproof mood booster. George Duke’s fusion of jazz, funk and soul with the grooves and moods of Brazilian music resulted in an absolutely timeless recording!
We hope this one makes it’s way into your favourites as it has ours.
We hope you enjoyed our Top 5 Records to get the Summer Started and be sure to check out our other blog posts!