The Elements and Harlem Bush Music — Uhuru are the latest additions to the Top Shelf Series vinyl reissues. Remastered from the original tapes and pressed on 180-gram vinyl, both albums are part of the cannabis-themed Jazz Dispensary collection and limited to 1,000 physical copies each.
Released in 1973, The Elements pairs tenor sax legend Joe Henderson and jazz pianist/harpist Alice Coltrane on this spiritually minded, four-song release that pays tribute to "Fire," "Air," "Water" and "Earth." Henderson, who released albums over four decades, had a prolific relationship with Blue Note in the 1960s, but he embarked on a more experimental route in the 1970s as epitomized by this jazz-fusion classic. Coltrane—whose other collaborations included Carlos Santana, Terry Gibbs and her husband John—was one of the few harp players in jazz, and she connected heavily with Indian music through her Hindu faith. The trance-like music on The Elements pairs perfectly with a deep indica strain and a glass of pinot noir.
Two years earlier, Baltimore-raised saxophonist Gary Bartz released Uhuru, the second part of the two-album Harlem Bush Music that included 1970's Taifa. Performed with his NTU Troop band with Andy Bey on vocals, Uhuru epitomizes the spiritual, social and political awareness of the Grammy-winning band leader, who dedicated the album to Malcolm X and John Coltrane. The standout track "Celestial Blues" appears on the original Jazz Dispensary release, 2016's four-album Cosmic Stash, and as a sample in Black Sheep's "To Whom It May Concern" and Jurassic 5's "(Who's Gonna Be The) Next Victim." Uhuru (and especially the opening track "Blue") pairs well with a heady sativa.