Thursday, June 7, 2012

Top 10 Modern Dance Jazz Songs

I dig jazz as much as they next guy with great musical tastes! My favorite styles of jazz, as you can probably guess, are the different schools that evolved throughout the mid-20th century. Lots of jazz styles from cool jazz, soul jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, latin jazz, and heck, even free jazz.

But I'm not here today to get into those sounds because you can get better info on sites like this and this. Instead, I want to get into more current music. A short while ago, I delved into more contemporary jazz bands to help broaden the ol' DJ range and I found some great stuff going on. There were bands taking the sounds of the '50s and '60s, and either adding in a mix of '90s acid jazz or throwing in new dance beats and instrumentation. Many times, I heard the term 'nu-jazz' tossed here and there. Call it what you like, so long as you can dance to it!

So, here today, let me present to you my Top 10 Modern Dance Jazz Songs of the 21st century (in no particular order)... and keep in mind, my use of the term 'jazz' might be much more loose than yours:
  1. The Five Corners Quintet - Shake It - Some straight-ahead, quick-paced dance jazz without any sampling or funky drum breaks. The Five Corners Quintet, based in Finland, take a modern jazz sound and amp it up to hip-shakin' levels, like this song shows. Features tenor sax from Timo Lassy, who's listed again further down.
  2. The Filthy Six - Knockout - Tight soul jazz from these guys throwing out the best in horn work and burnin' Hammond organ. If you get a chance, look into getting their entire LP... highly worth it for new hammond jazz dance tunes.
  3. Timo Lassy featuring Jose James - The More I Look At You - A Timo Lassy track, but the highlight here is the smooth, crooning voice of Jose James, probably one of the top jazz vocalists around right now. He's played with various performers including Chico Hamilton, Nicola Conte, Jazzanova, and, here, Timo Lassy. Missed him last time he played in San Francisco, but I'm hoping not to repeat that mistake!

  4. Ken Morimura - Descarga Pa'ti - Okay, I don't know much about this guy at all, mainly because I can't read any of the Japanese on his website! But I don't need to read Japanese to hear Morimura blast out a heavy latin jazz groove. What I was able to find is that Morimura is the pianist and composer of the following track. Absolutely hip-shakin' beats are bein' tossed down right here!
  5. Hidden Jazz Quartet - Hi Footlocker - Some German 'nu-jazz' for you from the Hidden Jazz Quartet, again, mixing some soul dance beats with nice jazz instrumentation. Lots of nice touches here, including the guitar and organ solos.
  6. Dusty - Keep It Raw - Nice, funkier jazz number here with a few samples, including very familiar one courtesy of The Meters. Don't know much about Dusty, but I do know this track blends all kinds of good sounds from the mentioned sample, funky drum beats, heavy horns, and groovy piano work.
  7. Frootful - Colours - Frootful is a project headed up by an amazing graphic artist, Nick Radford. Not only can this guy bust out beautiful murals and LP art, he can also hit you with wild '60s-styled soul jazz! Combining great vibes, guitars, horns, and well-paced drumming, this whole LP hits you in all the right spots.
  8. Nicola Conte - Bossa Per Due - By this point, Nicola Conte doesn't really need a whole lot of introduction. Sharp-stylin' Italian producer and composer who brings out some of the best bossa nova vibes in his music.
  9. Koop - Come To Me - Okay, these guys interest the heck outta me! Unfortunately, I don't have any of their work on vinyl so I've never DJed them. But, they are one of my favorite bands to relax to at home when we're just taking it easy. Now, from what I'm aware of, all of their music is just a well-done mix of previous samples, clips, overlays. Whatever it is they do, great music like this is the result. It's just hard to think that this is all just a crazy blend of samples!
  10. Nick Rossi Set - Sweet 'Tater Pie - Aw man, I'm not gonna say too much about this guy. Still performing great music in the fields of jazz and Western swing throughout the Bay Area on top of keeping up one of my top blogs. This song harkens back to those fun times in the early 2000s when the Set was playing around often, starting out as a 4-piece combo and ending as a full-on horn-infused group. I had to wait until my wife first moved in with me before I was able to get my hands on this 45... still one of my fave tunes!
That's it for today! Yes, like I said, I'm loose with my use of the term 'jazz', but hey... in the end, it's all good stuff. If you have any more info on any of these musicians or songs, or have any similar recommendations, then pass them on!


  1. I love Koop! Before Little Dragon, Yukimi Nagano sang with them. Oddly enough, I just heard their music in a grocery store last week.

  2. Clifton, the only problem with Koop is that they RARELY release any new material! I do need to explore their vocalists more. I want more of these sounds and can't seem to find a lot I like in the 'electronic jazz' category. Suggestions?