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Bernard Purdie

Bernard Purdie - Soul to Jazz


Who did Aretha Franklin not want to miss out on when she recorded her most inspiring albums in the early Seventies? Who gave Steely Dan the beat? Who did Isaac Hayes, Donny Hathaway, BB King, ‘Sweet’ Lou Donaldson and Joe Cocker give the chair behind the drums? No drummer has seen the inside of a studio as often as Bernard ‘Pretty’ Purdie. 

Not for nothing do colleagues attribute the ‘funkiest soul beat on the scene’ to the drummer, and consequently, Purdie has never relied onthe genre of jazz alone, but rather curiously looked beyond the borders. Sessions with The Rolling Stones, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix or Tom Jones are no problem for him, whose precise and sensitive playing is synonymous with drive and groove. This is probably one of the reasons why his rhythms are still sampled by many DJs today.

Released on CD back in 1996 and 1997 (and now out of print), thetwo ‘Soul to Jazz’ recordings have a cult factor today and sound asfresh as they did back then. Now both albums are released together for the first time as a 3LP set.

These recordings are peppered with lots of prominent star guests from jazz and soul, from Eddie Harris, Michael Brecker and Nils Landgren to Hank Crawford, Stanley Turrentine and Cornell Dupree.

Purdie’s ‘Soul to Jazz’ project takes two different approaches: The first part focuses on the renowned WDR Big Band led by Gil Goldstein. Soul classics such as Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’,‘When a Man Loves a Woman’, Eddie Harris’s ‘Freedom Jazz Dance’ and Lee Morgan’s famous groove tune, ‘Sidewinder’, are interpreted in large scale sound. One discovery of these recordings amidst all the renowned guest soloists is the New York-born singer, Martin Moss.

The great success of this first album, released under ‘Soul to Jazz’, led to ‘Soul to Jazz II’, a more intimate record, but one that picks up where the first recording left off, by exploring similar themes. Again, Purdie has called together a notable band of kindred spirits, including saxophonists Hank Crawford (BB King, Ike and Tina Turner, Ray Charles), Stanley Turrentine (Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott) and Vincent Herring, as well as guitarist Cornell Dupree (King Curtis) to pianists Benny Green and Junior Mance.

Bernard Purdie’s ‘Soul to Jazz’ is a timeless classic and a blueprint of the soul jazz genre in all its facets. Above all, it is a portrait of one of the most influential and best drummers in the world, who made jazz groove with his inimitable funky soul beat.


Moanin’ (Bobby Timmons)
Superstition (Stevie Wonder)
Iko Iko (James Crawford)
Señor Blues (Horace Silver)
When a Man Loves a Woman (C. Lewis & A. Wright)
Freedom Jazz Dance (Eddie Harris)
Sidewinder (Lee Morgan)
Brother Where Are You? (Oscar Brown)

Wade in the Water (traditional)
Work Song (Nat Adderley)
Land of 1.000 Dancers (Chris Kenner)
Gimme Some Lovin’ (S. Winwood & S. Davis)
Motherless Child (traditional)
New Orleans Strutt (Jack DeJohnette)
La Place Street (Stanley Turrentine)
Amen (traditional, arr. by Bob Belden)

Jubilation (Junior Mance)
Joshua (traditional)
Mr. Magic (Ralph MacDonald & William Salter)
Theme From Shaft (Isaac Hayes)
Nobody Knows the Trouble
I’ve Seen (traditional)

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