Jazz Goes Mod review – choice cuts from early 60s Soho

Jimmy Smith plays the Hammond organ
Jimmy Smith’s Hammond organ sounds were a key part of the mod scene. Photograph: Rich Pedroncelli/AP

In the early 1960s, modern jazz suddenly found itself fashionable, particularly in London. This four-CD box set presents 78 tracks reflecting the tastes of the first mods. These were a hard core of modern jazz fans who originally styled themselves “modernists”. Dandyish, watchful and prickly, they were contemptuous of virtually everyone else, especially trad jazz fans and scruffy student types.

The music here, half from the US and half local product, has 10 tracks featuring the modernists’ number one hero, Tubby Hayes, and six by newly fashionable American organists such as Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff. No Brits yet. Georgie Fame would take care of that later. Broadly speaking, the American tracks are either well known already (John Coltrane, Horace Silver etc) or deservedly obscure (Sunny Harris & the Three Orbits). The British choices are more exciting. They include not only some fabulous rarities, but items culled from BBC broadcasts of the time, whose very existence came as a complete surprise to me: trumpeter Dizzy Reece guesting with the Jazz Couriers, for instance. Even the most demanding mod would have approved.