Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Grover Washington Jr|
Inner City Blues (Reis) (Rstr) (Dig)
Genres: Jazz, Pop, R&B
This 1971 date was Washington's first as a leader, after playing and recording with the small organ combos of Charles Earland and Johnny "Hammond" Smith. It's unheard-of for a jazz musician to make his debut complete with ... more »
Listen to Samples
This 1971 date was Washington's first as a leader, after playing and recording with the small organ combos of Charles Earland and Johnny "Hammond" Smith. It's unheard-of for a jazz musician to make his debut complete with strings, horns, and vocal group, but Washington apparently got the opportunity when the backing tracks were in place for a Hank Crawford album and Crawford was out of the country. Stranger still, Washington is usually playing alto here rather than his customary soprano or tenor. It was an instrument he hadn't played in years, and the result of his horn switching is a compellingly original sound that's almost sopranolike. Despite the circumstances, Washington brings a lot of himself to this music, making personal statements of two contemporary Marvin Gaye songs, "Inner City Blues" and "Mercy, Mercy Me," and the standards "Georgia on My Mind" and "I Loves You, Porgy." He also puts together an effective combination of Bill Withers's "Ain't No Sunshine" and J.J. Johnson's "Theme from Man and Boy." Whether it's the tight combo of "Inner City Blues" or the full-blown orchestra with strings and backing vocals, this is soul jazz of the first rank. --Adam Rains
Where it all began
Olukayode Balogun | Leeds, England | 05/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1971 release was Grover Washington, Jr's debut for Motown (or was it CTI/Kudu?) and sees the saxophone virtuoso in soulful but raw form. He tackles the Motown-era song catalogue with gusto and I guess one could call it smooth jazz but make no mistake: this is not the lazy kind of smooth jazz as is done by the likes of Kenny G, George Howard, Dave Koz, Marion Meadows (shudder) or even Kirk Whalum (who I can just about tolerate, in places). As opposed to merely covering other people's songs, think of this as reinterpreting them. His take on Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" is a jazz-funk masterpiece as is the shorter "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology). His version of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" (at 8mins 33secs, the longest song here) almost brings tears to the eye. It is simply beautiful.
Produced by Creed Taylor and arranged by a young Bob James, GWJ (on alto and tenor saxophone) is joined by an all-star cast, including James himself on electric piano, Richard Tee on organ, Idris Muhammed on the drums, Eric Gale on guitar and Airto Moreira on percussion. There are only six songs and the whole affair is over in just over 35 mins but it is so worth it - if you're either a GWJ fan or a fan of early saxophone jazz fusion.
My collection of GWJ CDs is almost complete! All I need now is "All The King's Horses", his 1972 follow-up to this album (was selling here for an eye-watering $105.00 but is no longer available) and his 1979 album Skylarkin' (on offer for a hysterical $350.00) and I'll have the full set. I have the former on vinyl and the latter on cassette so I can afford to wait. They are sure to be re-issued sooner or later."