As you know, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is, since cannabis became legal in some states back in the mid-2010s, the busiest single day for marijuana dispensaries, as everyone staring down a trip home to their po-dunk hometowns, with their former high school bullies and right wing nutjobs, loads up on the kush to get through the Thanksgiving holiday. We can’t help you with the weed — at least not yet, Weed Me, Please coming soon? — but we can help you have the perfect soundtrack for when that weed hits, thanks to our collaboration with Jazz Dispensary. Below, we give you a rundown of each album in our five-album capsule collection. You can buy them in a bundle here.
For the dusty-fingered deep diggers who have a sixth sense for sample-worthy sounds and unique headnodders, the name David Axelrod is gospel. An arranger with A-List credits a mile long, Axelrod had carte blanche to do what he wanted on his own solo releases, and after calling a gaggle of his high-profile studio mates (including Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Cannonball Adderley and George Duke) he turned his 1974 release Heavy Axe into a referendum on the jazz-rock sound of the era. Funky covers of “You’re So Vain” and “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” give way to the porn-funk of “Mucho Chupar” and the moody, moogy “Everything Counts,” all anchored with the full, round low end and majestic orchestral flourishes that has made Axelrod a favorite with hip-hop beat makers from the ’90s till today.
Sorcery is our trippiest and heaviest entry in our Jazz Dispensary collaboration. The album finds Jack DeJohnette teamed up with a tight crew of badass bandmates, including veterans of Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew sessions (bassist Dave Holland) and Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters band (Bennie Maupin). Discursive, meditative, trippy but grounded in tasty grooves (the deep digger drum break “Epilog”) and laced with flurries of Hendrix-on-jazz-steroids guitar from 6-string heroes John Abercrombie and Mick Goodrick plus the ahead-of-its-time electronic processing of DeJohnette, this band would never be mistakenly filed under Smooth Jazz.
In between being one of the most recorded studio drummers of all time (the “Purdie Shuffle” graced everything from Aretha to Steely Dan), Bernard Purdie squeezed in a few sessions of his own. Purdie Good! was recorded early in 1971 by legendary engineer and audio obsessive Rudy Van Gelder at his bespoke studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey and has all the quality hallmarks of that esteemed locale. Three Purdie-penned originals are balanced by three covers of hits du jour, utmost among them an absolutely blazing romp through James Brown’s “Cold Sweat.”
The fourth entry in the Jazz Dispensary/Vinyl Me, Please series dives deeper into the masters of the jazz-funk drum kit, this time with the debut release from Idris Muhammad, a New Orleans-bred rhythm king who successfully made the leap from the finest soulful jazz records of the ’60s to the nastiest fusion funk of the ’70s. Here we catch him literally on the cusp of the two in 1970, with one good foot in the get-down of “Express Yourself” and “Super Bad,” and the other in his own heady excursions into modal rhythm and melody. The two moods are neatly divided into sides A and B, a beautiful example of the sequencing and listening experience only vinyl can provide.
The very definition of ’70s soulful jazz, Where I’m Coming From has all the hallmarks of Prestige Records at its finest, with an all-star cast of sidemen (Welcome back, Idris Muhammad! Hello to Madlib’s uncle, Jon Faddis! Greetings to the funky flute of Hubert Laws!) recorded at Van Gelder’s studio and packed with down and dirty grooves top to bottom. From the opening cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” through to the low-slung original headnodder “Where I’m Coming From,” with stops along the way for dips into the catalogs of Curtis Mayfield (“Give Me Your Love”), Marvin Gaye (“Trouble Man”), and the Four Tops (“Keeper Of The Castle”), Leon Spencer’s rippling organ lines sear this prime example of groove jazz.