Here's a set of 10 great records. I've created this list as a more personal introduction than an academic one, and so I'm using the phrase "essential soul jazz" to describe the list very loosely. I recommend each with my heart and soul; meaning I've spent time getting to know them, and think you'll enjoy the experience of meeting them too.
Always uplifting, Florida-based JJ Grey & Mofro returned to the Pageant on Saturday night with their special blend of swampy Southern blues-rock. Against a backdrop depicting the cover art from the band's new album, "Ol' Glory," -- a silhouette of two deer beneath the twisting branches of a tree -- the band put forth an energetic two-plus-hour set featuring both new material and old favorites, beginning with the funky-slow drawl of "Mississippi."
Growing up in the Dakotas didn't offer many outlets for entertainment. But for East Side Slim the summer was when he could get his musical fix. AM radio stations would provide the music that would later propel him into a career of DJing.
Last year was a busy one in regards to American music, and who could be expected to hear all the fine releases let loose late in the year?
Miles Tackett and the Three Times play soulful, bluesy music that sounds like what Cream might have played if the jazzy influence of Ginger Baker had dominated the group's sound.
There are big bands, and then there is the Educated Guess. Helmed by Singer, songwriter and arranger Charlie Brumley, the St. Louis group often sprawls to a dozen or more musicians on stage, but it's not the numbers that matter. It's the soaring, orchestral, soul-pop vision, captured on new recordings like the Motown-spirited "Baby, If You Want It."
Since buying his first album at the age of five, Jim Bruce has loved music. From blues and jazz to rock, it all finds a way onto his show "Higher Ground," from 2-4 p.m. Central every Tuesday on KDHX.