4/20 Day: A Day for Smokin’ Music

soul diesel

As more and more states embrace legalized cannabis,  lifestyle industries are seeking to capture a piece of this emerging market. And nothing complements a buzz like great music (or so I’m told). Since the release of their 4-LP Cosmic Stash collection in 2016, Jazz Dispensary has established itself as a primo reissue label serving up the kindest strains of funky soul-jazz for discriminating ‘heads.

See Related Article: “10 Albums for 4/20 Besides ‘Dark Side of the Moon'”

Soul Diesel Vol. 2 features rare tracks from the vaults of the Prestige and Galaxy labels, and it feels like a late-night party in a smoky after-hours club. The “soul jazz” movement of the mid-‘60s resulted in some exceptional music, as jazzers embraced danceable rhythms and bluesier harmonies and melodies. You know just what to expect from song titles like “Cootie Bugaloo,” “Soul Groovin” and “Jungle Strut,” and Soul Diesel Vol. 2 delivers the goods: percolating Hammond organs, short-and-sweet horn riffs, and of course the breakbeat-ready funky drummer.

But you don’t need to be high to appreciate the grooves gathered here. The rhythm sections are super-tight, and it’s a thrill to hear musicians like tenor saxophonists Gene Ammons and Rusty Bryant as well as guitarists Melvin Sparks and Billy Butler.  They straddle the line between hard bop, blues, and funk. There are also stellar performances from legendary musicians like drummer Bernard Purdie, vibraphonist Cal Tjader, and tenor master Grover Washington Jr.

See Related Article: “Cecil Taylor: Beyond the Boundaries of Jazz”

Jazz Dispensary takes great care with each new release. The tracks on Soul Diesel Vol. 2 have been remastered from the original analog tapes, and the sound is crystal clear. The psychedelic cover art features a brand-new paint marbling piece from LA-based artist Danielle Garza (a.k.a. Ellierex); the opaque orange swirl design on the 180-gram vinyl disc will please both physical media connoisseurs and dedicated herbalists for hours. (Or what seems like hours.) Fire up your turntable (and whatever else you’ve got), and dig on Soul Diesel Vol. 2.

Jazz Dispensary is also serving up “soul jazz” in smaller doses. They have teamed up with SPARC, a San Francisco-based nonprofit medical cannabis organization, for the first installment in their “Private Stock Series.” A translucent blue 45rpm disc featuring Bobby Rush’s “Mary Jane” b/w Rusty Bryant’s “Fire Eater” will be available at all four SPARC locations in SoCal. This is a limited-edition pressing of 500, so grab it while it’s hot.

John Montagna

Photo Credit: Jazz musician Gene Ammons performs onstage with his saxophone on the Public Broadcasting Service series Just Jazz on June 23, 1971. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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John Montagna is a bass guitarist, singer, songwriter (but not a “singer-songwriter”) and Brooklyn Native. He has toured the world and elsewhere with Alan Parsons, Todd Rundgren, The Turtles (featuring Flo & Eddie) and many other legendary hit makers, and he created the theme music for the top-rated comedy podcast “WTF With Marc Maron.” John prefers to view his all-consuming obsession with The Beatles as an asset, rather than a liability.

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