As you prepare to fire up the grill, lay down the ribs and get your fingers sticky this long weekend, you'll need music that rocks the soul and keeps the groove funky. Ribs don't cook themselves, and corn needs to hear about it before growing tender and sweet. The following five downloads (at iTunes) blend perfectly with smoke, pig and icy long-necks—and will keep your tongs snapping (see you on Sunday!):
Stanley Turrentine—Hustlin' (Blue Note). Recorded in 1964 with Turrentine on tenor, Shirley Scott (organ), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Bob Cranshaw (bass) and Otis "Candy" Finch (drums), this album locks into a groove and doesn't let go. Turrentine and Scott have a good thing going here, from Love Letters to Goin' Home. This is a good album to put on just as the coals start to get hot.
Jack McDuff—The Honeydripper (Prestige). Few could work the Hammond B3 like Brother Jack McDuff. In addition to an aggressive attack on the keys, McDuff could work the pedals into a frenzy. This album, recorded in 1961, featured Jimmy Forrest (tenor sax), Grant Green (guitar) and Ben Dixon (drums). Forrest is one of the most overlooked tough tenors from the late 1950s and early 1960s, and McDuff's playing here gets your feet tapping, no matter the tempo. Just remember to turn the London broil.
Grant Green—For the Funk of It (Blue Note). If you're unfamiliar with the funky side of Grant Green, this is the one to download. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Blue Note began producing Green the way Verve had packaged Wes Montgomery. But instead of having Green record pop standards of the day, the label moved Green toward soul and funk. The results were poppin' riffs and grooves that set the standard for Charles Earland and other jazz artists who were leveraging the boogaloo. This album is a superb remastered compilation of Green's late period. Watch the corn!
Shirley Scott—Soul Song (Atlantic). This was organist Scott's and then-husband Stanley Turrentine's last recording together before their divorce. Each track on this 1968 album has a different funky feel. Even Bob Dylan's Blowin' in the Wind is all soul, with Scott walking the pedals and Turrentine's tenor sax wailing. Husband and wife were joined by Roland Martinez (electric bass) and Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (drums). Best of all, you get six tracks for $4.99. Pile the ribs on the platter and toss the salad.
Ham Hocks and Cornbread Vol. B (JSP Records). If you're still wondering why jazz grew less popular in the 1950s, this album will resolve some of that mystery. It's a superb r&b and jump-boogie collection of singles from the late 1940s and early 1950s that will set your picnic table jumping. Jazz moved away from dance music during this period, and the music on this album rushed in. And in many cases, the singles on this album featured leading jazz musicians making a few extra bucks! You get 29 tracks for $9.99 on this album, which seems to be the best in the four-album series, though the others include killer tracks, too. Included here are Tiny Bradshaw's Walk That Mess and King Carl Davis' Sure Like to Run featuring Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. All of the tracks are big on horns, blues and jump rhythms. Into the pool!