When Bernard Purdie is not helping some big star to create a fantastic studio sound, the drummer pursues his own projects such as "Soul to Jazz", two albums he recorded in 1996 and 1997. Released on CD back then (and now out of print), the two recordings have a cult factor today and sound as fresh as they did back then. Now both albums are released together for the first time as a 3-LP 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' "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 (B.B. King, Ike & 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.