Today, saxophonist Dave McMurray released a new rendition of the Grateful Dead’s 1975 song “Franklin’s Tower.” The track is taken from McMurray’s upcoming album Grateful Deadication, out July 16th via Blue Note Records. On the new full-length, McMurray takes his gritty, soulful Detroit sound and reimagines the flower empowered songs of San Francisco icons the Grateful Dead with an album as vibrant as it is unexpected.
Grateful Deadication was announced earlier this month with the video for a transcendent version of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter’s “Loser,” featuring Grateful Dead co-founder Bob Weir, alongside Bettye LaVette and Weir’s Wolf Bros bandmates Don Was, Jay Lane, Jeff Chimenti, and Greg Leisz.
During the heyday of the Dead’s tireless touring, McMurray was on the road himself, joining now-Blue Note president Don Was in the uncategorizable Was (Not Was) beginning in 1981. McMurray has performed with a stunning roster of legendary musicians, including B.B. King, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Hallyday, Gladys Knight, Albert King, Nancy Wilson, KEM, Bootsy Collins, Herbie Hancock, Geri Allen and Bob James.
In 2018 McMurray joined Don Was for an all-star set at San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. The performance featured a surprise appearance by Bob Weir, who had recently enlisted Was and drummer Jay Lane for his new band Wolf Bros, including a rendition of Dead classic “Days Between.”
“My Grateful Dead adventure began a few years ago when I was lucky enough to play a show with The Wolf Bros,” McMurray explains. “The long-form, odd measures and complex chords of the music hooked me immediately. I noticed the songs had great melodies, yet held the openness of Miles Davis’ Electric Period….The music was catchy, psychedelic, raw, with the idea that nobody solos/everybody solos—akin to Weather Report. The more I listened, the more I knew these songs would eventually become a vehicle for my jazz expression.”
For this spirited excursion into the Dead’s vast repertoire, McMurray reconvened the rhythm section that graced his 2018 Blue Note debut, Music Is Life. This time out, bassist Ibrahim Jones and drummer Jeff Canady are joined by guitarist Wayne Gerard and keyboardist Maurice O’Neal, both longtime compatriots from the Motor City scene, as well as pianist Luis Resto and percussionist Larry Fratangelo, colleagues from McMurray’s days in Was (Not Was).
Grateful Deadication is not only a heartfelt celebration of the Grateful Dead’s brilliant songcraft, but the imagination and soul evident throughout the album exemplify the wide range of McMurray’s influences - from jazz, pop, rock, soul, reggae, R&B, gospel and beyond.
1. Fire On The Mountain
2. Dark Star
3. Loser (feat. Bettye LaVette & Bob Weir And Wolf Bros)
4. Estimated Prophet
5. Eyes Of The World
6. The Eleven
7. Touch Of Grey (feat. Herschel Boone)
8. Touch Of Grey (Instrumental)
9. Franklin's Tower
10. The Music Never Stopped