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Best of Grover Washington, Jr.

The Best of Grover Washington, Jr.

by Grover Washington Jr.
While there can be no doubt that the late great Grover Washington, Jr. released his most commercially successful recordings for Columbia and Elektra, there is also no doubt that, critically and creatively, Washington's most visionary material, the stuff that virtually created the template for the smooth jazz generations that came after, were on the Kudu imprint and


While there can be no doubt that the late great Grover Washington, Jr. released his most commercially successful recordings for Columbia and Elektra, there is also no doubt that, critically and creatively, Washington's most visionary material, the stuff that virtually created the template for the smooth jazz generations that came after, were on the Kudu imprint and produced by Creed Taylor. Washington was a monster saxophonist on tenor as well as soprano, and a true stylist. Before coming to Motown and Kudu he had apprenticed with a number of soul-jazz masters, including Charles Earland and Johnny "Hammond" Smith. The material here focuses on the seminal eight years Washington recorded for Motown and Kudu, beginning with his early renditions of standards like "I Loves You, Porgy," from George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, but quickly moves into what he did best in his early years, making killer records full of contemporary soul-jazz recordings of the hits of the day: "Where Is the Love" and his deeply funky readings of Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)," "Mercy Mercy," and especially "Trouble Man" (presented in an edited single version here that may actually be tougher than the original!), with arrangements by Bob James and Don Sebesky. His sense of time and his phrasing were, and remain, a standard for melodic improvisation, and all of his lame imitators -- especially Kenny G -- can't hold a candle to his ability, whether considering his lyric, on-the-money improvisational genius or especially his sense of time and phrasing. This set is divided in a sense by two periods, the Motown years and then the Kudu ones, and all the major and some minor cuts (which are still major) are here. For evidence of this, check his soprano medley of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and J.J. Johnson's "Theme from Man and Boy," as well as Withers' "Lean on Me" a little later on disc one. The medley, with great charts by James, is still remarkable for its ability to meld deep soul, lithe funk, progressive big band charts, and pop. The second disc focuses more deeply on the Kudu years and kicks off with "Reed Seed," a composition by Washington when he was already pushing past his own boundaries as he had on Feels So Good and Mister Magic -- not only are both tunes here, but the best tracks from both those and the Reed Seed album are as well. The breezy hand percussion, the violin solo, the electric piano, and of course Washington's own solo make it an irresistible opener. "Black Frost," co-written with James, is a solid example of the deep-groove funk Washington was pioneering at the time; while his tenor had an edge, his delivery and the other instrumentation were smooth, and the combination is still ahead of its time. As for those who questioned Washington's pure jazz chops, there is a revolutionary version of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Bright Moments" here, radically reinterpreted in its harmonic sequence and rhythmic complexity. When the tender reading of Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance" found here can be said to be the "weakest" link in the bunch -- and it's far from weak -- then the listener is getting something special indeed. This is the one to start with until early Motown albums are re-released in America on CD, and it is the one that compiles all the great stuff from Kudu. For any serious fan of soul-jazz and melodic jazz-funk, or even smooth jazz, all of these records are essential purchases, but this is a fantastic beginning. It is easily the best compilation of Grover Washington, Jr. material anywhere.

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Grover Washington   Primary Artist,Synthesizer,Flute,Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Pepper Adams   Baritone Saxophone
John Blake   Synthesizer,Electric Violin,Vox Organ
Phil Bodner   Baritone Saxophone
Ron Carter   Bass,Cymbals
Jorge Dalto   Piano
Richard Davis   Bass
Jon Faddis   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Thad Jones   Trumpet,French Horn
Steve Khan   Guitar
Hubert Laws   Flute,Piccolo
Marvin Stamm   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Ernie Royal   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Jay Berliner   Guitar
Ralph MacDonald   Percussion,Conga,Syndrum
David Nadien   Violin
Airto Moreira   Percussion
Tasha Thomas   Vocals
Ray Alonge   French Horn
Wayne Andre   Trombone
Seymour Barab   Cello
Gene Bertoncini   Guitar
Lita Boggs   Vox Organ
Rita Boggs   Vox Organ
Randy Brecker   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Maurice Brown   Cello
Alfred Brown   Viola
Tyrone Brown   Bass,Electric Bass
James Buffington   French Horn
Arthur "Babe"Clarke   Flute,Baritone Saxophone
Billy Cobham   Drums
Alex Cores   Violin
Donald Corrado   French Horn
Dave Grusin   Piano
Harry Cykman   Violin
Cornell Dupree   Guitar
Richard Dickler   Viola
Gordon Edwards   Bass
Bernard Eichen   Violin
Lewis Eley   Violin
Max Ellen   Violin
Harvey Estrin   Flute,Piccolo,Recorder
Paul Faulise   Trombone,Bass Trombone
Barry Finclair   Violin
John Frosk   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Eric Gale   Guitar
John Gatchell   Trumpet
Paul Gershman   Violin
Eileen Gilbert   Vocals
Harry Glickman   Violin
Bernie Glow   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Emanuel Green   Violin
Paul Griffin   Clavinet
Hilda Harris   Vocals
Harry Lookofsky   Violin
Julius Held   Violin
Idris Muhammad   Drums
Theodore Israel   Viola
Anthony Jackson   Bass
Marilyn Jackson   Vocals
Hilary James   Synthesizer,Piano,Conductor,Harpsichord,Electric Piano
Louis Johnson   Bass
Leo Kahn   Violin
Harry Katzman   Violin
Fred Klein   French Horn
Harold Kohon   Violin
Phil Kraus   Percussion
Charles Libove   Violin
Guy Lumia   Violin
Donald MacCourt   Bassoon
Joseph Malin   Violin
George Marge   Flute,English Horn,Oboe,Piccolo,Recorder,Alto Saxophone
Irvin "Marky" Markowitz   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Harvey Mason   Drums
Barbara Massey   Vocals
Charles McCracken   Cello
Marcus Miller   Bass
Bob Millikan   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
George Mraz   Bass
Gerry Niewood   Alto Saxophone
Gene Orloff   Violin
Alexander Otey   Trumpet
Jeanine Otis   Vox Organ
Romeo Penque   Clarinet,Flute,Bass Clarinet,English Horn,Oboe,Piccolo
Randy Peyton Quartet   Vocals
Raoul Poliakin   Violin
Max Pollikoff   Violin
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie   Drums
Matthew Raimondi   Violin
Alan Raph   Bass Trombone
George Ricci   Cello
Barry Rogers   Trombone
Margaret Ross   Harp
Alan Rubin   Flugelhorn
Alan Shulman   Cello
Anthony Sophos   Cello
Irving Spice   Violin
David Spinozza   Guitar
Richard Lee Steacker   Electric Guitar,Vox Organ
Maretha Stewart   Vocals
Tony Studd   Trombone,Bass Trombone
Richard Tee   Organ,Piano,Electric Piano
Brooks Tillotson   French Horn
Millard Vinson   Drums
Sidney Weinberg   English Horn,Oboe
Snooky Young   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Wally Kane   Clarinet,Flute,Contrabass Clarinet,Bass Saxophone
Julius Brand   Violin
Bernard Thacker   Vocals
Emanuel Vardi   Viola
Leslie Burrs   Flute
James Simmons   Synthesizer,Keyboards,Electric Piano,Clavinet
Peter Gordon   French Horn
Bill Eaton   Vocals
Paul Winter   Violin
Jerry King   Bass
Elliot Rosoff   Violin
Donald Ashworth   Baritone Saxophone
Kenneth "Spider Webb" Rice   Drums
Santo Russo   Trombone

Technical Credits

George Gershwin   Composer
John Blake   Arranger
David Matthews   Horn Arrangements
Richard Alderson   Engineer
Dale Ashby   Engineer
Candace Bond   Executive Producer
Tyrone Brown   Arranger
Rudy Van Gelder   Engineer
Ira Gershwin   Composer
Amy Herot   Executive Producer
Hilary James   Arranger
Robert Margouleff   Producer
David Palmer   Engineer
Richard Lee Steacker   Arranger
Creed Taylor   Producer
Millard Vinson   Arranger
Grover Washington   Arranger,Producer
Father   Engineer
David Ritz   Liner Notes
Geoff Gans   Art Direction
James Simmons   Arranger
Georgia Ward   Tape Archivist
DuBose Heyward   Composer

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