Soul jazz is often associated with hard bop. “Hard bop was an “opening out” in many directions." Mark C. Gridley, writing for the All Music Guide to Jazz, explains that soul jazz more specifically refers to music with "an earthy, bluesy melodic concept" and "repetitive, dance-like rhythms.... Note that some listeners make no distinction between 'soul-jazz" and 'funky hard bop,' and many musicians don't consider 'soul-jazz' to be continuous with 'hard bop.'" Roy Carr describes soul jazz as an outgrowth of hard bop, " and "soul" appearing in a jazz context as early as the mid-1950s to describe "gospel-informed, down-home, call-and-response blues." Carr also notes the acknowledged influence of Ray Charles' small group recordings (which included saxophonists David "Fathead" Newman and Hank Crawford) with Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Cannonball Adderley  and Milt Jackson. The 1955–1965 years were a time of both consolidation and expansion yet the exact nature of those shifts in perspective among jazz musicians…too satisfied with defining the music by using such clichés as “soul,” “funk” and “returning to the roots.”
“F. Scott Fitzgerald famously dubbed the 1920’s the Jazz Age.” Soul jazz developed in the late 1950s, reaching public awareness with the release of The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco. Cannonball Adderley noted: "We were pressured quite heavily by Riverside Records when they discovered there was a word called 'soul'. We became, from an image point of view, soul jazz artists. They kept promoting us that way and I kept deliberately fighting it, to the extent that it became a game." While soul jazz was most popular during the mid-to-late 1960s, many soul jazz performers, and elements of the music, remain popular. The Jazz Crusaders, for example, evolved from soul jazz to soul music, becoming The Crusaders in the process. Carr places David Sanborn and Maceo Parker in a line of alto saxophonists that includes Earl Bostic and Tab Smith, with Adderley, followed by Lou Donaldson, as the strongest links in the chain.
Some well-known soul jazz recordings are Curtis Fuller's Five Spot after Dark (1957), Lee Morgan's The Sidewinder (1963), Frank Foster's Samba Blues (1963), Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island" (1964) (which was popularized further when sampled by US3 on "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)" almost 30 years later, in 1993), Horace Silver's "Song for My Father" (1964), Ramsey Lewis's "The 'In' Crowd" (a top-five hit in 1965), and Cannonball Adderley's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" (1966) (also popularized further when covered as a top 40 pop song by The Buckinghams the following year). Les McCann and Eddie Harris's album Swiss Movement (1969) was a hit record, as was the accompanying single "Compared to What", with both selling millions of units.
Important soul jazz organists include Bill Doggett, Baby Face Willette, Jimmy Smith,Charles Earland, Richard "Groove" Holmes, "Brother" Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, Lonnie Smith, Big John Patton, Freddie Roach, Larry Young, Don Patterson, Shirley Scott, Hank Marr, Reuben Wilson, and Johnny Hammond Smith.
Saxophone and guitar are also important in soul jazz; soul jazz tenors include Lou Donaldson, Stanley Turrentine, Hank Crawford, Gene Ammons, Eddie Harris, Houston Person, and Ramon Moris; guitarists include Grant Green, Melvin Sparks , O'donel Levy, Phil Upchurch, David T. Walker and George Benson. Other important players include pianist Horace Silver, Les McCann, cornet player Nat Adderley, torombone player Curtis Fuller, bassist Wilbur Bascomb, trumpetter Lee Morgan and drummer Idris Muhammad(Leo Morris), Les DeMerle, Paul Humphrey.
|“||Funky means earthy and blues-based. It might not be blues itself, but it does have that 'down-home' feel to it. Soul is basically the same, but there's an added dimension of feeling and spirit.||”|
|— Horace Silver|
- Gridley, Mark C. (1994), Ron Wynn, ed., All Music Guide to Jazz, M. Erlewine, V. Bogdanov, San Francisco: Miller Freeman, pp. 11–12, 14, ISBN 0-87930-308-5
- Tanner, Paul O. W.; Maurice Gerow; David W. Megill (1988) . "Hard Bop — Funky". Jazz (6th ed.). Dubuque, IA: William C. Brown, College Division. pp. 112–121. ISBN 0-697-03663-4.
- Carr, Roy (2006) , "Soul to Soul", A Century of Jazz: A Hundred Years of the Greatest Music Ever Made, London: Hamlyn, pp. 106–121, ISBN 0-681-03179-4,
Soul [jazz] was just a natural outpouring of Hard Bop and, for the most part popularized by many of the genre's stellar soloists....
- "JSTOR". Hard Bop and It's Critics. 16 (1).
- "Theatre Journal 58.3". The Search for American Soul: Theatre in the Jazz Age.
- Sidran, Ben. Jazz Profiles from NPR: Nat Adderley (1931–2000) NPR. Accessed December 13, 2007.
- See also Herrmann, Zachary. (April 2, 2007) Concord releases Orrin Keepnews Collection JazzTimes Magazine. Accessed December 13, 2007.
- Quoted in Carr, p. 150
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 140. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.