From trumpet-drenched to experimental mind-benders and slow-toke wonders, here are 7 great jazz (and jazzy) albums to listen to while getting high. SFV OG Kush recommended.
There’s an urban myth circulating that the study of sociology originated in the back rooms of smoky jazz clubs. Chicken and egg situation, you might say. So which came first, freestyle jazz improvisation or cannabis smoke inhalation? Long hailed as a deviant act, smoking the green stuff has only recently begun to be culturally accepted. But way before the days of legalization, these artists were making music for the stoned masses. Here are 7 great jazz albums even non-jazz lovers will love to explore while high.
1. Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters
In writing Head Hunters, Hancock wasn’t trying to make a jazz record. He was trying to make a funk record. He wanted to get down and dirty, low to the floor, and all the way through the earth. What he ended up doing was creating a new hybrid that has remained influential in the worlds of jazz, funk, soul, and hip-hop. This is the kind of album you can listen to 100 times over in different states of mind and always notice something new. If you’re looking for a reason to take jazz music seriously, this is an excellent place to start.
2. Stevie Wonder – Innervisions
“I’m too high / I’m too high / But I ain’t touched the sky” are the first lyrics off Wonder’s 1973 jazz masterpiece Innervisions. Although the record is nearly 50 years old, it could have been written yesterday. The themes of racial inequality and systemic racism on “Livin’ for the City” would have made it a perfect anthem for last summer’s BLM protests. Wonder’s classic synth riffs paired with his smooth vocal timbre make this an ideal album to throw on while kicking back and getting real introspective.
3. Miles Davis – In a Silent Way
The experimental music structure of this 1969 album had music critics hailing it as Davis’ first “fusion” record, and it marked his transition into the “electric” period. If not previously familiar with his work, In a Silent Way is a great segue into the world of jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis. Herbie Hancock is also featured on this record as a guest electric pianist. At 38 minutes, it’s the perfect length for a quality-sounding LP. His freeform style allows the mind to ebb and flow, creating inspiration whilst soothing the soul.
4. Kamasi Washington – The Epic
The Epic marks Washington’s transition from a well-versed sideman (he worked on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and toured with Snoop Dogg) to a confident leader, filling his major label debut with nearly three hours of jazz. Indeed, he brought jazz into the 21st century without sounding dated in the very least. He succeeded in introducing a whole new generation of youth to the beauty that is authentic jazz music. The appropriately-named album can only really be described using one word: epic. If you’re looking for a trip that’ll last you all afternoon, this record comes highly recommended.
5. Josef Leimberg – Astral Progressions
The album’s title alone is enough to peak the interest of anyone looking to have an out-of-body experience. It may be Leimberg’s solo debut, but the L.A. native has been touring the jazz circuit for more than 20 years. Released in 2016, Astral Progressions even features a cover of Miles Davis’ “Lonely Fire.” It’s jazz come full circle, citing heavies from the ’60s and ’70s as major influences for Leimberg’s writing. This is an album dressed to impress for your next hang out with all of the quality of ’70s jazz records with none of the filler. At more than an hour in length, it’s meant to be played as a digital download on quality speakers for you to share or just enjoy solo.
6. Alice Coltrane – Ptah, the el Daoud
Alice Coltrane’s Ptah, the el Daoud is the only album written by a woman to make it onto this list. It was inspired by the spiritual jazz movement of the 1960s and you can almost feel her experiences as the music progresses. The title track starts off quite aggressively with manic keys and pounding drum beats but quickly moves into the more romantic, dreamy “Turiya and Ramakrishna.” The album is a journey in itself and sheds light onto Coltrane’s growing fascination with religious Hinduism. The soft alto flute on “Blue Nile” is enough to chill even the most anxious person out.
7. Thundercat – Drunk
As tradition would have it, we’ve saved the very best for last. Thundercat’s 2017 release Drunk gets better with every listen. Seriously. It’s equal parts jazz, punk, satire, and heartbreak. Each of the 23 tracks sits at around two minutes, which is just long enough to give you the feels while leaving you wanting more. Thundercat’s tranquilizing falsetto sets the stage for a night of CBD or indica – something soothing. Favourite moment? The part in “Jameel’s Space Ride” where he actually meows about what a cool cat he is.
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