Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Album Review: Dave McMurray - Grateful Deadication 2

Dave McMurray
Grateful Deadication 2 
**** out of *****

Here is the second collection of Grateful Dead covers from Detroit based saxophonist Dave McMurray as he and his band dip back into the San Francisco based legends catalog with Grateful Deadication 2. While the first collection veered into the light/easy/smooth jazz and poppy side of things, this album works much better overall, feeling more lived in and authentic, truly connecting with the Dead originals, while staking their own claim. 

With McMurray leading the charge on sax, the core band of: Wayne Gerard guitar, Maurice O’Neal keyboards, Luis Resto piano, Ibrahim Jones bass, Jeff Canady drums, Larry Fratangelo percussion, start things on a positive note as "Playing In The Band" begins with a smooth jazz/New Age vibe that gains in grit and determination throughout as the drumming of Canady is noticeable. 

"China Cat Sunflower" uses strong bass work and twinkling keys which pair together to establish a good groove as the song moves along becoming increasingly adventurous with odd sounds, while the slow rolling "Bird Song" deploys chimes/percussion, solid sax lines with the drumming moving into a funkier realm to close. The spirit of The Grateful Dead is coursing throughout this album as the players shift and experiment.  

One of the more straight ahead numbers is the eulogy-like "To Lay Me Down" which is smooth and has a host of guests helping out including Jamey Johnson vocals, Greg Leisz pedal steel, Larry Campbell guitar, Don Was bass. These aren't the only guests on the album as Oteil Burbridge sings on the most rocked up track here, "Fire On The Mountain" while Bob James adds silky piano to both the soft, yet delightfully weird, take on the "The Other One" and the pretty "If I Had The World To Give" which features some gorgeous lines from McMurray.      

The whole effort is commendable and shows that McMurray and company are willing to change up originals with success. "Truckin'" goes in a blues vamp direction with a bass line out of Pink Floyd's "Money" while album closer "Crazy Fingers" uses a reggae foundation before jumping off into a huge build with fiery sax work, closing the record on a triumphant note.   

Rarely does the sequel surpass the original, but that is the case here as all of these tracks are successes and a major improvement over the first installment. With Grateful Deadication, it felt as McMurray was just dipping his toes into the water of those hippies tunes, now with Grateful Deadication 2 things have truly clicked as it feels he has lived with the songs and injected this collection with his own feelings. 

Here's hoping he digs in even deeper with a Grateful Deadication 3 sometime in the near future as the songs keep on growin'. 

Support the artist, buy the album and peep some video below:

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