Memphis Underground (LP Version)
New Orleans (LP Version)
Hold On, I'm Comin' (LP Version)
Chain of Fools (LP Version)
Battle Hymn of the Republic (LP Version)
Herbie Mann was one of jazz's most wildly eclectic artists, a fact borne out by a dazzlingly prolific recording career encompassing everything from bossa nova to funk. Smack in the middle of Southern soul's heyday, Mann seized the moment, bringing his band to the legendary Memphis soul hothouse American Studios to cut a batch of hard-grooving R&B tunes for 1969's Memphis Underground with legendary Stax/Atlantic producer Tom Dowd and a Memphis rhythm section. On the Mann-penned title track, jazz and R&B meet atop a subtly skanking ska-flavored feel. The Sam & Dave hit "Hold On, I'm Comin'" starts like a soul-jazz dance party before famously fearless guitar man Sonny Sharrock unleashes a thrilling avant-garde onslaught. Similarly, Mann and company's version of the Aretha Franklin smash "Chain of Fools" sets up a seductively simmering groove gradually subverted by growling guitars, Roy Ayers' free-wheeling vibes, and ultimately the leader's own lupine flute licks. It makes for a soul-jazz stew with some serious sting.