Jazz isn’t a genre I’ve delved into too deeply, but it’s one of the most influential genres on the planet, with many other musical styles emerging from the jazz scene over the years. I wanted to find out a little more about the genre and decided to delve into the underground jazz scene. There’s also a playlist at the bottom of the review, so you can check out all the songs on this list!
Review by Jane Howkins
Picture by Natural Twenty
Natural Twenty – Moving On
Natural Twenty are an urban cosmopolitan music collective from Calgary, with Moving On being one of their latest songs to be released. As well as the jazz elements, the band also incorporate funk, rock, pop and the blues into their music, making it sound really unique! The rhythm has that classic jazz vibe, with the guitar melodies adding a staccato, funk vibe to things, giving it a feeling of effortless cool.
DAAY – Golden Tree
Golden Tree is one of the more experimental songs on this list, also being the longest at a whopping 7:27 minutes long. DAAY’s music won’t be for everyone, but those looking for something a little different to the norm should check this out – there’s an incredible sense of tension contained within the music as it builds up, with the vocals having a huge amount of strength to them.
Kate Cosentino – Emergency Contact
Emergency Contact is actually quite a poppy song in parts, but the rhythm and brass instruments lend themselves well to the jazz genre too, showing a great range of sounds within Kate Cosentino’s music. Her vocals have a soulful quality to them that simply glides in between the different layers contained within the music – I dare you to listen to the song without wanting to tap your feet along!
Sylvia Lee – Fly Away
Sylvia Lee is a contemporary jazz-pop singer who sings in both German & English, adding a diverse cultural background to her music. Fly Away is quite a slow song, with the acoustic guitar melodies flowing throughout the song in lovely style. Her vocals follow the guitars, with some gorgeous backing vocals being added to harmonise with the lead vocals. The slow vibes of the music also add a jazzy feel to proceedings.
E.G. Phillips – Brave Heart, Luna!
Brave Heart, Luna! has more of a traditional jazz/swing feel to it, sounding straight out of the first half of the 20th century. The piano mixes with the bass and drums to create a fast rhythm that makes you want to start dancing right away, with the brass instruments used by E.G. Phillips to great effect. The vocals also have an old school feel to them, mixing perfectly with the rest of the music.
E.G. Phillips – The Octopus Song
The Octopus Song is another song from E.G. Phillips, this time being a lot slower in tempo than the previous track. It has more of a smooth jazz vibe to it, with the saxophone being the main star of the show here. The soulful vocals run alongside the music in a smart fashion, with the piano and percussion having more of an understated quality to them, which works well with the stripped down nature of the song.
Pulpo – Cachita
Cachita is interesting in that it has a very defined Latin influence within it, provided by Pulpo’s gorgeous piano licks and percussion. I found myself captivated by the rhythm of the song – the percussion sounds really interesting and made this instrumental number stand out to me – it’ll take a few listens to fully appreciate everything going on here. I also loved how the Latin themes are combined with the jazzy melody, making for a nice mix of styles.
Ambiancz – What Real Love Is
What Real Love Is is another contemporary pop song with jazz elements, but I also felt it had moments of r&b present, adding a groovy and soulful aspect to the track. It’s a slow song with a jazzy beat behind it – the bass has a funky quality, hiding behind the piano and synths that provide the main instrumentation for the piece. Ambiancz’s vocals act as another instrument, layering themselves over the rest of the music.
Who Parked The Car – W&G
W&G starts off with a slow piano melody that weaves its way through the music as the song progresses. The track stays at a slower tempo throughout, with the percussion, bass and a saxophone being added as time goes on – the saxophone solo towards the end was particularly impressive to me. Who Parked The Car’s vocals are smooth and the vocal harmonies make the music sound very beautiful at times.
PleasePrettyLea – Nude Silk Dress
The curiously titled PleasePrettyLea released the song Nude Silk Dress back in February of this year, with the track having quite a unique sound to it. The slow rhythm and piano melodies have a jazzy feel, but the way the vocals are used sounds like nothing else I’ve ever heard in any genre. They have a sultry quality to them and the backing vocals are layered over the lead vocals in an extremely captivating way.
Daniel Roure – Paris By Jazz
Daniel Roure is a jazz singer who sings in both French & English – on Paris By Jazz, he performs in French, making the track sound very cool. The song has an old school jazz vibe to it, reminding me of the sort of music that was popular in the 1940s. It’s also rather catchy, with the piano and brass instrumentation creating an upbeat ambience, as Daniel croons along in style.
Salvatore Manalo – Dreaming
Salvatore Manalo is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer who blends genres together in an effortless manner – latest release Dreaming has elements of pop, jazz, r&b and soul, making for a very interesting listen. The track is quite catchy and would do well in the charts, but it also has enough character to distinguish itself within the other genres listed above – I found myself particularly impressed by how soulful Salvatore’s vocals are.
Keanu Ienco – I Still Shine
I Still Shine is a little different from some of the other songs on this list, containing elements of rock, metal, prog and funk music. It starts out sounding quite jazzy, but soon progresses into more of a rock/metal song on the louder bits, before bouncing back into a cool jazz/funk melody on the verses. It’s an instrumental piece, showing off Keanu Ienco’s amazing guitar skills, which really stand out!
Pini Gurfil – Reborn
Reborn is another song with a classic jazz feel, reminding me a lot of the music that crooners such as Frank Sinatra released in the mid 20th century. Like with most tracks of this genre, the song consists solely of a bass, percussion and a piano, with the latter providing the main melody to the piece. Pini Gurfil’s vocals are low and have that perfect crooning style that defines the genre so well – the backing vocals are used to good effect, adding another edge to the rhythm of the music.
Stephanie Heitz – No More Tears
Stephanie Heitz is a Christian singer-songwriter based in Southern Indiana, who has a wide range of influences present within her music. No More Tears has a jazzy rhythm and piano melody, but I also felt that there were moments of gospel, r&b and pop music also contained within the track, making it sound quite diverse. Stephanie’s vocals sound amazing and are perfectly suited to the style of music – the Christian themes won’t be for everyone, but it’s worth listening to for her voice alone!
Leonardo Barilaro – Not 32 Days Without A Note
Not 32 Days Without A Note kicks off with some pre-recorded spoken vocals, before the synths and bass melody come in. The song actually has something of an 80s synth pop/new wave quality to it at first, although the piano lines that emerge a little later are rather jazzy, especially when mixed with the percussion style. The choir in the background gives the music a strange beauty, showing Leonardo Barilaro to be very talented at what he does!
Macanto – Smart People
Macanto are a European indie band who include jazz, funk and pop in their music, with Smart People being of no exception. The song is incredibly upbeat, making you want to get up and dance as soon as you listen to it! The lead vocals sound really smooth, with some rapping emerging later on in the track, working surprisingly well with the jazzy music – it’s great to hear a band experimenting so much like this!
Super Freddy – Seul Au Monde
Seul Au Monde is a little different to a lot of the other songs on this list, being more of a hip-hop track. The song opens with what can only be described as a reggae rhythm, with a smooth saxophone playing over the beats – the saxophone and piano make it sound quite jazzy, despite the hip-hop and reggae moments. Super Freddy’s vocals are rapped in French, giving the music a sensual feel, especially when combined with the saxophone melodies.
Tom McGuire & The Brassholes – D.R.E.A.D
D.R.E.A.D is the final song on my list, created by Tom McGuire & The Brassholes, an 8 piece soul and funk band from Glasgow. Despite this, there are still some jazz overlaps, with the track appealing to those into a range of different genres. D.R.E.A.D has an immense energy to it and I can imagine these guys being amazing live – it’s a catchy song, with some fantastic grooves occurring as the track progresses. I’ll definitely be checking more of their music out!