Saturday, May 25, 2013

James Brown's Cold Sweat Meets Miles Davis's So What: The Jazz Soul of James Brown

You can definitely hear an influence of Miles Davis on James Brown's "Cold Sweat," which borrows the "So What" vamp for its own rhythmic genius. Maceo Parker and other members of Brown's band maintained some knowledge and ties to events in the jazz scene, much to the greater benefit of James Brown's music, which embraced funk for the late 1960s and 1970s while keeping an eye on the roots of funk, soul and jazz. According to the wiki page, the song's composer, Alfred Ellis, used the horn line from "So What" and Brown changed up the guitar line to make it funkier with some room for a drum solo and Maceo Parker's saxophone solo. Unlike earlier funk pieces by Brown prior to 1967, "Cold Sweat" is no longer rooted in a blues chord progression, instead, basing itself on a single chord, much like modal jazz and "So What." If you want to jam to a jazzy rendition, check this!The best version, unsurprisingly, remains Brown's original recording with the wailing sax of Maceo Parker and a little "funky drummer" Stubblefield. To hear Brown get down with a jazz orchestra conducted by jazz genius Oliver Nelson, check out these funky, jazzy, soulful songs: "This a Man's World," "For Once In My Life," "September Song," "That's My Desire," and "Your Cheatin Heart."  Brown was quite versatile, eh? He almost sounds like Joe Williams but with additional funk and soul instead of the blues.


  1. unfortunately the jazzy rendition isn't available on you-tube anymore.
    Suggestions for hearing it elsewhere? Thanks.