Various ‘Soho Scene ’61: Jazz Goes Mod’ LP/2CD (Rhythm and Blues) 4/5

Following on interestingly from ‘Soho Scene ’62’, this is the latest of a terrific series of classic 1960’s British jazz. If the idea of re-issuing mod-flavoured jazz is not necessarily a new one with ACE records BGP off shoot having pioneered a series of soul and jazz oriented mod music, the Soho Scene series does differ, digging a good deal deeper into the jazz side, and, moreover, offering the considerable bonus of rare as hen’s teeth UK jazz 7″/EP and LPs, with, as an addition, a second CD of American jazz. The first and ultimately stronger of the CD’s repeats the winning formula of focusing on the British jazz side and in this case that means quality cuts from Don Rendell with his take on the classic ‘Jeannine’, Tubby Hayes and Jack Costanzo combining on the big band Latino of ‘Southern Suite (pt.1)’, and the calypso favourite ‘St. Thomas’ by the Dick Morrissey quartet.

Some of the seminal jazz labels from the USA are showcased on the second side, with Hammond organist Brother Jack McDuff blowing up a storm on Prestige with ‘Sanctified waltz’, more big band action from Kenny Clarke and Francy Boland on ‘Charon’s ferry’. Elsewhere, Blue Note is represented by a lovely modal influenced cut from Freddie Hubbard and an early example of groove guitarist Grant Green, while artists on Atlantic, Decca, Epic all feature and the 45s offer a truncated version of the original album tracks.

Rounding off an excellent overview of the club scene are the terrific black and white photos and these capture the atmosphere to perfection. Full marks to Rhythm and Blues for including those. Extensive liner notes come courtesy of Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson. A fascinating insight into the kind of music that was played in the hipper clubs of the era, and of the 1980’s and 1990’s when a major revival of interest in jazz from the 1960’s was underway. Watch out for a forthcoming anthology review from the Harry South Big Band on the same label. A good, if expensive, time to be a 1960’s jazz devotee.

Tim Stenhouse