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.

Your Dose of Cool: Grant Green

Let’s get jazzy, boys and girls. Today I’m showcasing one of my personal favorite bebop guitarists, Grant Green. Relatively unknown during his lifetime, he recorded dozens of albums for Blue Note Records throughout the 1960s and 1970s. If you’re looking for hard bop soul jazz centered around a truly unique guitarist, look no further.Am I Blue

This music has an atmosphere thicker than the planet Venus.

The Best of Grant GreenJust take one listen to Green’s 1963 release, Idle Moments. The title track is a chilled out odyssey of hip, passionate jazz that is served best with a dark liquor and French cuffs. The first few bars are unforgettable, and set the velvety mood that has defined Green’s career. Have a listen for yourself, and enjoy your dose of cool today:

Check out Murfie’s extensive collection of Grant Green albums! As always, you get unlimited streaming (Web, iOS, Android, Sonos) and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC. 


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.


Album Preview: “Lese Majesty” by Shabazz Palaces

Lese MajestyAlbum
Lese Majesty

Artist
Shabazz Palaces

Release Date
Tuesday, July 29

Label
Sub Pop

Pre-order Link
Pre-order Album

Preview
Shabazz Palaces, an experimental hip-hop duo consisting of Ishamael Butler and Tendai Maraire, may not have released their first songs together until 2009, but they’ve been a part of the rap scene longer than some of its members have been alive. Butler got his start MCing in the early 90s with the jazz-rap collective Digable Planets, a trio who went on to release two full lengths—Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) in 1993 and Blowout Comb in 1994—but split in 1995 due to creative differences.

All stayShabazz Palacesed quiet on the duo’s front until two mysterious EPs popped up in 2009. Aptly titled Of Light and Shabazz Palaces, the exploratory EPs immediately caught the eyes of the big wigs at Sub Pop Records. They signed Shabazz Palaces that year as one of the few hip-hop acts on a rock-oriented label.

Of LightIn 2011, Shabazz Palaces released their debut LP, Black Up, an album that finds the duo continuing to craft forward-thinking hip-hop both lyrically and sonically: its beats blow your mind—and make you want to move too; Butler’s lyrics could stand solo as poems and they’d still be pretty darn great.

Shabazz Palaces will release their follow up, Lese Majesty, next Tuesday. Based on what I’ve heard, it appears the collective is again shifting sonically forward. When Black Up was released, it felt like hip-hop made for another planet. Excitingly, Lese Majesty sounds like it was made for another galaxy.

Murfie Preview

Video Transcript

Kayla: Hey everyone, a new album release is coming to Murfie on Tuesday, July 29th. Shabazz Palaces are coming out with Lese Majesty. So James, you’re a fan—what are your thoughts on the new album release?

James: It’s a wonderful surprise. I had no idea they were coming out with new material until it was announced. And that’s actually how I discovered them in the first place. I was at my local record store and the owner said, “Hey, do you like Digable Planets?”—Which I did, I really appreciated their fusion of jazz and hip hop. And he said, “Here’s some new material by that guy from Digable Planets.” He was referring to Ishmael Butler, or “Butterfly.” The album—this was a few years ago—it was Black Up by Shabazz Palaces. It’s a fusion of experimental electronic music and hip hop, and it’s unlike anything else from that time. The new album proves to be more of the same—more of a lush astral electronic landscape with Ishmael Butler’s socially conscious rhymes.

Kayla: Awesome. You guys can check it out for yourself—it’s on our pre-order page, murfie.com/preorder.

Soundcloud Version

A teaser from Lese Majesty:

Pre-order your copy of Lese Majesty on Murfie! Each CD comes with unlimited streaming (Web, iOS, Android, Sonos) and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC.