The Best of Grover Washington, Jr. [Motown]

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
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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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/19/1996
  • Label: Motown
  • UPC: 731453062023
  • Catalog Number: 530620

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Grover Washington Jr. Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Primary Artist, 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 Sr. 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
Richard Davis Contributor
David Matthews Horn Arrangements
Richard Alderson Engineer
Dale Ashby Engineer
Candace Bond Executive Producer
Tyrone Brown Arranger
Joe Gastwirt Mastering
Rudy Van Gelder Engineer
Ira Gershwin Composer
Amy Herot Executive Producer
Hilary James Arranger
Robert Margouleff Producer
David Palmer Engineer
Alan Rubin Contributor
Richard Lee Steacker Arranger
Creed Taylor Producer
Millard Vinson Arranger
Grover Washington Jr. Arranger, Producer
Father Engineer
David Ritz Liner Notes
Geoff Gans Art Direction
James Simmons Arranger
Georgia Ward Contributor, Tape Archivist
DuBose Heyward Composer
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