Record Store Day Favorite: Jazz Dispensary

So Record Store Day 2016 has come and gone. And after celebrating one of the coolest days for vinylphiles (and subsequently recovering), I think I have to say, without a doubt, one of my favorite releases was The Jazz Dispensary box set. The four LP boxset (all set on colored vinyl) boasts a cosmic journey through up-tempo jazz and bebop. These boasts couldn’t be more humble. From start to finish, The Jazz Dispensary is a compilation of legendary proportions. With a box to match its contents, this four LP set is the full package.

The Jazz Dispensary, despite its length, wastes no time getting to the faux-meat of the matter. Beginning with Rusty Bryant’s “Fire Eater,” the compilation sets the bar high for the rest of the tracks. Bryant’s track patches together Hammond whirls and sizzling sax lines over big drums to create the sonic texture of what a night in the 18th and Vine district might sound like.

And the rest of the first LP keeps this energy. Ending on Billy Hawkins’ “O’ Baby (I Believe I’m Losing You),” the compilation begs its listener to keep going down the jazzy rabbit hole. The song straddles the line between soul, funk, and jazz–a feat that surpasses the draw of each of those genres.

And that genre tension (or more accurately genre-less tension) gives The Jazz Dispensary box set its power. Each track is funk-saturated. Each track is jazzed out and wooly. Because there’s such quality to every song in the compilation, it’s hard to tease just one out as exemplary. That said, I’ve found myself returning to The Blackbyrds’ “Rock Creek Park.” The song has the quality that cannot be rendered into language. Funk and falsetto blend perfectly in this cosmic slop of a song.

The Jazz Dispensary is a tour de force through some of the best cuts of soul-jazz. Soaked in horns and bass grooves, sprinkled with vocals and shimmering guitars, the four LP box set is a must have for jazz aficionados and acolytes alike. From straight bebop to funky slow jams, the compilation gives a wide representation of several overlapping genres.

And perhaps that’s another key to the compilations power–how it uses overlapping genres to transition between soul, funk, jazz, and the myriad of hybrids. The Jazz Dispensary is a gnarled journey through some big cuts. And it ends on Johnny Lytle’s “Tawhid”–fitting for the compilation. The song combines vibraphone with fuzzy bass and steady, cymbal-heavy drums to create a sound as coiled as the compilation itself.

As soulful as it is psychedelic, The Jazz Dispensary box set is hands down my favorite release of Record Store Day 2016. If this isn’t in your collection, you should sit yourself down and ask why the hell not.

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