Dave McMurray’s new album reimagines Grateful Dead songs

Saxophonist Dave McMurray’s second album for Blue Note Records is a jazz tribute to the Grateful Dead.

On the new recording Grateful Deadication, McMurray reimagines the songs of the iconic California rock band in his gritty, soulful Detroit sound.

The album, coming July 16, follows McMurray’s performance with Don Was at San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. It featured a surprise appearance by Gradeful Dead co-founder Bob Weir, who had recently enlisted Was for his new band Wolf Bros.

“My Grateful Dead adventure began a few years ago when I was lucky enough to play a show with the Wolf Bros,” McMurray recalls. “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.”

McMurray first announced Grateful Deadication last month with a music video for the song Loser, which features Weir alongside star blues vocalist Bettye LaVette and Weir’s Wolf Bros bandmates Was, Jay Lane, Jeff Chimenti and Greg Leisz.

For this recording, McMurray reconvened the rhythm section of his 2018 Blue Note debut Music is Life. Here, bassist Ibrahim Jones and drummer Jeff Canady are joined by guitarist Wayne Gerard, keyboardist Maurice O’Neal, pianist Luis Resto and percussionist Larry Fratangelo.

Known for his versatile, expressive style, McMurray has performed with legendary musicians B.B. King, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Bonnie Raitt, Nancy Wilson, Bootsy Collins, Herbie Hancock, Geri Allen, Bob James and more. Grateful Deadication showcases a wide range of McMurray’s influences from jazz, pop, rock, soul, reggae, R&B, gospel and beyond.

Here’s the track listing for Grateful Deadication:

  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Dark Star
  • Loser (feat. Bettye LaVette & Bob Weir and Wolf Bros)
  • Estimated Prophet
  • Eyes of the World
  • The Eleven
  • Touch of Grey (feat. Herschel Boone)
  • Touch of Grey (Instrumental)
  • Franklin’s Tower
  • The Music Never Stopped

Grateful Deadication arrives July 16 via Blue Note.