Jazz Dispensary announces Top Shelf series reissues for David Axelrod and Bernard Purdie titles

Article Contributed by Chummy PR | Published on Saturday, March 4, 2023

Craft Recordings and Jazz Dispensary are proud to announce the first two offerings of 2023 from the acclaimed Top Shelf series, with a groove-tacular double feature of David Axelrod’s jazz-rock opus Heavy Axe and hit-maker Bernard Purdie’s rhythm extravaganza Purdie Good!. Heavily sought after by cratediggers globally, these reissues mark the first wide vinyl release of both albums in over 20 years. As with every title in the album-centric Top Shelf series which reissues the highest-quality, hand-picked rarities (all culled from Craft Recordings’ vaults),Heavy Axe and Purdie Good! have been cut from the original analog tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and pressed on audiophile-quality 180-gram vinyl at RTI. The LPs are housed in tip-on jackets, featuring faithfully reproduced original designs. Available to pre-order beginning today (3/1), both releases are due out April 14th at JazzDispensary.com and record stores worldwide. Coinciding with today’s announcement is the premiere of Jazz Dispensary’s new video trailer for both releases (watch here).

David Axelrod is one of America’s most influential composers, arrangers, and producers, whose work in the mid-to-late ’60s crisscrossed musical genres and made him one of the most in-demand figures in the music industry. Axelrod’s break came when he was appointed in-house producer at Capitol Records in 1964, where he stayed for seven years. The cream of his output — a run of outstanding and unique solo albums for Capitol, preceding a fruitful period at Fantasy Records in the 1970s — is characterized by his trademark blend of R&B, jazz, rock, and soul, with hard-knocking grooves.

Axelrod’s solo album Heavy Axe is a jazz-rock opus that encapsulated the preeminent sound of the mid ’70s. With a little help from legendary players like Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Cannonball Adderley, and George Duke, Heavy Axe crisscrosses between lush funk sounds and full, round low end and majestic orchestral flourishes that made Axelrod’s sonic realm a goldmine for sample-hungry hip-hop beatmakers from the ’90s until today.

American drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie is considered to be one of the most influential and innovative funk musicians of all time. Purdie is known for his precise musical time keeping and signature use of triplets against a half-time backbeat: the “Purdie Shuffle.”

Purdie hit the New York music scene in the early ’60s, landing his first hit with Mickey and Sylvia — which marked the beginning of a stellar career and led to his 25-year association with Aretha Franklin. Purdie started working with Franklin as her musical director in 1970 and held that position for five years. He also provided the backbeat for Steely Dan's “Aja,” and anchored sessions with the Rolling Stones, James Brown, and Tom Jones.

In between being one of the most recorded studio drummers of all time, 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 a blazing romp through James Brown’s “Cold Sweat.”

Click here to pre-order both LPs and Jazz Dispensary merchandise.

Tracklist – Heavy Axe:

Side A

1.  Get Up Off Your Knees        

2.  Cast Your Fate To The Wind

3.  You're So Vain         

4.  My Family

Side B

1.  Mucho Chupar         

2.  Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing          

3.  It Ain't For You

4.  Everything Counts

Tracklist – Purdie Good!:

Side A

1.  Cold Sweat

2.  Montego Bay

3.  Purdie Good

Side B

1.  Wasteland

2.  Everybody's Talkin'

3.  You Turn Me On