The late saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr.
had three distinct periods during his musical career. The first was as a sideman with Charles Earland
in his great cooking soul-jazz band of the mid-'60s; the second -- his best musically -- was his association with producer and label boss and producer Creed Taylor
at Motown and then at Kudu where he recorded his greatest records, including Soul Box, Feels So Good
, Mister Magic
, Reed Seed
, and A Secret Place
; and the last of these was his most commercially viable period recording for Elektra and finally Columbia. This compilation concerns itself with his Columbia tenure and sticks close to the bone of Washington
's "cool" period -- which is nonsense because he never played anything remotely resembling "cool" jazz, either historically or musicologically, despite recording Dave Brubeck
's "Take Five," which appears here. These tunes were plucked from the Sony vault for inclusion on this budget compilation and serve no purpose other than to highlight that the man could play "mellow" like no body's business. As musically lightweight as this material is, there is something clearly of the man's gifts on offer: his facility for melodic improvisation even during the smooth jazz era. While melody was king during the '80s and '90s in this subgenre of jazz, Washington
did it better and more intuitively than anyone else and never took a dive, even if the arranged sounds around him were not up to his abilities.