April 25th Centennial of Ella Fitzgerald

ella-fitzgerald

Today marks the centennial of American jazz singer, Miss Ella Jane Fitzgerald. She was born on April 25th, 1917 and passed away June 15th, 1996 due to complications from diabetes.

Ella Fitzgerald was discovered during an amateur night at the Apollo theater in Harlem. She was often referred to as the “First Lady of Song”, “Queen of Jazz” and “Lady Ella”. Her first big hit, “A Tisket, A Tasket” was released in 1938, which was written by both Ella and Chick Webb. She had a remarkable talent for singing and was most noted for her pure tone, improvisational ability and scat singing.

Norman Granz, a famous jazz impresario, worked with Ella during her career and built up the record label Verve Records based partially on her vocal talents. It was with Verve that Ella wrote many of her best works including her interpretation of The Great American Songbook.

Ella also appeared in movies and as a guest on popular television shows. She worked with a number of other Jazz artists including Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington. One notable album, Porgy and Bess, was awarded a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, a special award that honors recordings with “qualitative or historical significance”. It was considered to be among the most successful jazz vocal versions and would be released to coincide with the movie version.

After a long and successful career, which included 13 Grammy nominations and countless Downbeat Jazz Awards, Ella Fitzgerald would play her final concert at Carnegie Hall in 1991.

In addition to her many achievements, Ella assigned all of her royalties to the Charitable Foundation that bears her name. So every time you purchase a new recording of Ella’s, the royalty is donated in order to continue her charitable legacy. The centennial begins April 25th, 2017 and will conclude April 25th, 2018.

To commemorate Ella’s 100th birthday, the Smithsonian Museum opened “First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald at 100.”, and the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles has created a similar tribute. In addition, much of her body of work will see re-releases all year long.

Looking for albums from Ella Fitzgerald’s discography? Check out our shop!

Shop Murfie during the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day!

recordstoreday
Image courtesy of recordstoreday.com

It’s that time again! Record Store Day will be held worldwide on Saturday, April 22nd 2017. This year is especially important because it marks the 10th anniversary of the holiday’s inauguration in 2007.

What is Record Store Day (RSD)?

Record Store Day was founded in 2007 as a means of celebrating the culture of the independent record store. It brings together musicians, fans and record stores alike from all across the globe. A number of records are pressed specifically for the occasion and are distributed to participating shops in various countries. Live performances also take place in various record stores during this day.

What is happening at Murfie on Record Store Day?

The staff at Murfie have sifted through the inventory in our warehouse and personally handpicked CDs we know to be popular or hard to find. We’ll be making them available for purchase this Saturday in celebration of RSD. We made sure to include albums from a wide range of genres in order to satisfy the eclectic tastes of our customers. Whether you’re the curious listener in search of new music, or the veteran connoisseur looking to add to your collection, we’ve likely found something just for you.

Here is just a sample of some of the albums we found for you! See any that you like?

cd-table

For all you listeners out there looking for the classics, we’ve picked a number of albums from the greats including Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Queen, Prince, The Police, Bruce Springsteen, Carly Simon, Yes, The Talking Heads and Fleetwood Mac.

If you’re looking for Jazz or Soul we’ve selected a few great recordings from Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, as well as solid picks from Coltrane, Wes, and Miles. We also have a few titles from Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Lester Young and Count Basie.

Rock and Progressive Rock fans, you won’t be disappointed. We’ve picked a number of hit albums from artists such as Goldfrapp, Phil Collins, Fall Out Boy, Queens of the Stone Age, Modest Mouse, Evanescence, Def Leppard, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Willie Nelson, Spoon and Jefferson Airplane. Of course we also had to include Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and “Dark Side of the Moon”!      

If Metal or Punk is more your thing, we’ve selected albums from Metallica (including the self-titled black album which went 16x platinum), Medadeth, System of a Down, Ozzy Osbourne’s “Blizzard of OZ”, Mudvayne, Disturbed, Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine, Korn, blink-182, Green Day, Sum 41 and Linkin Park.

Pop and Top 40 fans, we’ve picked a ton of everyone’s favorites from artists such as Lady Gaga, Keri Hilson, Katy Perry, Madonna, Selena Gomez, Black Eyed Peas, Taylor Swift, Amy Winehouse, Aaliyah, John Legend, John Mayer, Coldplay, Maroon 5 and One Direction.    

Hip-hop heads jump around! We picked classics from artists such as House of Pain, Blackalicious, Public Enemy, Dr. Dre and Eminem. We also included more modern rap albums from artists like Wale, N.E.R.D., LMFAO, Outkast, Lil Wayne and  Kanye West. In addition, we chose albums from reggae/rap artist Damien Marley as well as reggae legend, Bob Marley, for you to enjoy.    

For the Electronic and Experimental listeners, we picked several titles from artists like Telepopmusik, Vangelis, Jamie Lidell and the Blue Man Group.   

We also have a number of soundtracks we will be selling including, Space Jam, Twin Peaks and Star Wars Episode 1.    

All this and more will be for sale Saturday, April 22nd 2017. We’ve selected albums from almost every genre to ensure you of a sweet find during your dig!  

Don’t see what you’re looking for?

If during RSD you aren’t finding the albums you’re craving, don’t forget to check the rest of the Murfie shop. We have a wide selection of albums to choose from, many of which sell for low, low prices!

What options do I have after purchasing my albums?

Murfie provides a service that allows listeners to purchase albums and instantly stream them in the following formats: FLAC and ALAC, mp3 and AAC. You can also send us albums you’ve purchased from other vendors and we will rip them to your Murfie account.

The physical copies of the albums are yours, but we will store them indefinitely in our warehouse until you choose to have them sent to you. This way you can maintain a clutter-free environment while you enjoy your favorite albums from your preferred devices.

Check out our FAQ for answers to all your basic questions or feel free to contact us, and we will gladly answer any of your questions about our services.

 

 

 

 

3 Jazz Albums to Listen to in FLAC Format

 

url John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (1965)

John Coltrane was booted from legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis’ band in the late 1950s due to his escalating alcohol and heroin addictions. A Love Supreme, recorded in 1964 and released the following year, found Coltrane, who plays tenor saxophone throughout, casting out his troubles and confessing a then-newfound devotion to God.

The album is broken up into four songs–“Acknowledgement,” “Resolution,” “Pursuance” and “Psalm”–over thirty-odd minutes, just a fraction of the time Coltrane’s quartet was used to performing. Rounded out by McCoy Tyner on piano, Elvin Jones on drums and Jimmy Garrison on bass, Coltrane here seems his most fluid and poised. His solos are compact–to the point and poignant; “A Love Supreme,” the album’s sometimes-sung-sometimes-played refrain, hits even harder.

A Love Supreme was a smash when it was first released, garnering two Grammy nominations and selling a slew of copies, and its stature has only grown since Coltrane’s death in 1967. It’s heralded as not only one of the greatest jazz albums of all time, but one of the best–period. Like a hug from a grandparent or your favorite mantra, its warmth and constancy seem (and may very well be) never-ending.

url Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! (2014)

Steven Ellison–AKA Flying Lotus–is the grandnephew of jazz pianist Alice Coltrane and the aforementioned John Coltrane. Though he’s been making electronic-based music for a decade now, it wasn’t until Ellison’s last two releases that he began deliberately delving into jazz for his compositions.

I’m glad he did. Because although Flying Lotus’ music has always been stimulating, You’re Dead! takes his tunes to another level entirely. Throughout 19 tracks in a blistering 38 minutes, Ellison balances hip-hop and jazz influences in equal measure; rappers Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg make appearances, as do pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Kamasi Washington and bassist Stephen Bruner (AKA Thundercat).

You’re Dead! is both explosive and improvisational. Aside from the Kendrick-assisted “Never Catch Me,” most songs clock in under the three-minute mark and are solely instrumental. The disc runs from one playful-sounding idea to the next, bolstered by Lotus’ experimental flourishes and Thundercat’s tireless basslines. And though death may have inspired You’re Dead!, this record is brimming with life.

url Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (1968)

Yes, Astral Weeks is a jazz album. It was recorded over three sessions in late 1968, during which Van Morrison let his accompanying musicians play whatever they felt over his songs; and those musicians–flautist John Payne, guitarist Jay Berliner, bassist Richard Davis, drummer Connie Kay and percussionist Warren Smith Jr.–all happened to be accomplished jazz artists.

The eight songs that comprise Astral Weeks move on their own time. Van Morrison’s delivery is leisurely and not to be bothered, almost as if he’s dreaming up syllables seconds before he sings them. There were no rehearsals before the crew began recording, and some tracks are borderline messy. However, it’s that messiness that allows the album to emit love and pain and all the other basic emotions in such a raw, base, human way.

There’s a big part of me that thinks Astral Weeks is a really, really doofy record. But there’s a bigger part of me that loves hearing Davis pluck that first bassline on the title track–that loves knowing I’m about to get lost in Van Morrison’s surreal, harmonious vision for the next hour.

The albums listed above are available for FLAC downloads and FLAC streaming on Murfie!

Your Dose of Cool: Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday is one of the most influential singers and songwriters in jazz history. Frank Sinatra once said of Billie, “With few exceptions, every major pop singer in the US during her generation has been touched in some way by her genius. It is Billie Holiday who was, and still remains, the greatest single musical influence on me.”

Over the course of her career, Billie sang with swing pianist Teddy Wilson, saxophonist Lester Young (who nicknamed Billie “Lady Day”), Count Basie and his Orchestra, and big band leader Artie Shaw.

billie holiday love songsBillie’s life was not easy by any means. She was born in Philadelphia on April 7th, 1915, to a young mother and absent father. She was left in the care of others for the majority of her childhood.  At age 13, Billie moved to Harlem with her mother, where they both worked as prostitutes. In 1929, their brothel was raided and the two were sent to prison. Billie was released at age 14 and began singing in nightclubs while still in Harlem.

As her presence grew, Billie painted her singer persona as a woman unlucky at love. Her voice was soft but powerful, somewhat weathered from wear—and full of pain, heartbreak, and longing. Even at her young age, she had many experiences to sing about, and she wanted her voice to be like a jazz instrument. Her main influences were Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith.

Racial equality was nowhere in sight during Billie’s time. She was of mixed ancestry, including African-American and Irish, and the color of her skin was unjustly used to treat her differently. Even as a featured singer, she had to enter into some nightclubs and venues through the back door or kitchen entrance. At times she wasn’t allowed to stand with the rest of the band on stage. People heckled her from the crowd and her angry responses were seen as “unprofessional.” She didn’t receive royalties for her recorded works, and was paid in flat fees. So when singles like “I Cried For You” sold 15,000 copies, she didn’t receive payment to match the work’s wildly popular reception.

billie holiday's greatest hitsAs an adult, Billie suffered from drug addiction and was arrested multiple times, even on her deathbed. She passed away on July 17th, 1959 from complications caused by cirrhosis of the liver. Even up to her death, Billie was hugely popular as a jazz singer and sold out entire venues when she performed. Her recorded works are some of the most treasured for jazz collectors.

Check out our selection of Billie Holiday albums on Murfie and get some Lady Day in your collection!

Album Review: “A Miracle” by Groundation

A Miracle Groundation

In the opening lines of “Riddim Hold Dem,” the first track of Groundation‘s 11th studio album A Miracle, frontman Harrison Stafford sings:

“Without woman, what would man be?”

This question marks the beginning of an album centered around exploring and cherishing the role of women in life. Something I always loved about Groundation, a jazzy roots reggae band hailing from Northern California, is their inclusion of female vocalists in their recorded and live productions. Over the years, vocalists Kim Pommell and Sherida Sharpe have emerged as powerful forces in the band, and they play a strong part in this album. “They’re not backup singers by any stretch of the imagination,” said Harrison in a recent interview we had on my radio show. “Groundation is about a balance of sound—everybody really taking part, sharing the spotlight…this is a part of our one-ness.”

Joining forces with Groundation on this album are two mighty, mighty queens of reggae: Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. Marcia and Judy, along with Rita Marley, were the I Threes—the original backing trio of Bob Marley & the Wailers in their heyday. Marcia’s gorgeous, etheral voice is considered one of the best in reggae music, and she is featured on track two, “Defender of Beauty.” Judy is featured on track six—the title track—”A Miracle,” sounding enticingly bluesy and soulful, combining perfectly with the jazzy piano and brass which set Groundation apart from other roots reggae bands.

A Miracle is a solid continuation of Groundation’s other recorded works. You can expect the previously-mentioned jazzy keys and saxophone, and the heavy, heavy basslines that make you want to fall to the floor. Their live show is a must-see. It’s good for your soul!

Along with the woman-centric theme, Groundation covers familiar ground with their lyrics—the state of the world, a call for liberation, trust in Jah, and the power of music. Within the woman-centric theme itself lies the curveball—because very rarely, if at all, had Groundation sung about romantic love. But in this case, as you will hear on the last track “Cupid’s Arrow,” it’s far from wishy-washy. It’s about real respect and equality. “Respect me, do the right….oh love me absolutely, and you and I shall prosper.”

Track four, “Gone A Cemetery,” has made the list of my favorite Groundation songs. It’s about a freedom fighter who met a cruel end. I don’t know if it’s about a specific person—if it is, I’m curious to know. Besides the lyrics, the melody is great.

Groundation is an internationally-acclaimed band, and their message is spiritual and universal. I strongly recommend picking up this album, plus more from the Groundation discography, and anything created or produced by Harrison Stafford—someone who works tirelessly to preserve reggae history and spread positive music to the masses.

From the inner liner notes of A Miracle: “This album is livicated to the beautiful female spirit: The powerful empress who manifests creation.”

Big up Groundation!



Kayla Liederbach
@djkaylakush

Kayla manages social media and customer support at Murfie. You can hear her on the radio hosting U DUB, the reggae show, Wednesdays on WSUM. She enjoys hosting the Murfie podcast, cooking, traveling, going to concerts, and snuggling with kittycats.


Your Dose of Cool: Jeff Buckley

GraceJeff Buckley was an enigma of an artist. Making his name during the turbulent music scene of the 1990s, his one and only full length album, Grace, is often hailed as one of the greatest records ever created. His music transcended genre—he reigned from a throne gilded in grunge, rock, vocal jazz, and 16th Century English carols. And it worked marvelously.

Grace contains one of Buckley’s best known performances, a cover of Leonard Cohen‘s “Hallelujah.” As one would come to expect from Buckley’s repertoire of work, this rendition is haunting, sweet, and nothing short of brilliant. Don’t be alarmed if your eyes begin to water before the piece is finished playing. Live at Sin-E

I recently came across a 1993 release of a live performance, Live at Sin-é. Buckley was beginning to build a fan base, and was still performing in little clubs around New York City with only his guitar and voice as support. This cover of Edith Piaf‘s “Je n’en connais pas la fin” showcases Buckley’s signature sound. His voice is ethereal, his guitar playing hypnotic, and he even sings the choruses in Piaf’s native French. Listen to the gem below and enjoy the coolness.

Check out Murfie’s collection of Jeff Buckley music starting at just $2!


Grant Peterre
@gpeterre

Grant is a Communications Intern at Murfie. He has played the guitar nearly his entire life, and his music and writings have been featured in international publications. He makes his home in both the United States and Italy, and will always be traveling in search of something.



Last Call: Your Murfie Week in Review


Monday 8/28—

[Blog] Grant gave us a dose of cool: soul jazz musician Grant Green.

Tuesday 8/29—

[Blog] We previewed Sand + Silence by folk duo The Rosebuds.
[Twitter] Our developer Marc leaked info about a cool new feature on mobile.

Wednesday 8/30—

[Blog] Wishy Wednesday happened in full force.
[Twitter] A Murfie member admitted his Creed CDs were on sale for $0.

Thursday 8/31—

[Blog] We previewed Spoon’s upcoming rock album, They Want My Soul.
[Facebook] The Murfie Genie delighted a few members with album gifts.
[Blog] Two words: Music History. (Learn up, people!)
[Twitter] Pixologie had fun visiting the Murfie office!

Friday 9/1—

[Twitter] We wished blues guitarist Robert Cray a Happy Birthday.