The Great Performances/Great Songs series by Verve is a new attempt to get prospective buyers interested in its vast jazz catalog by introducing them to large-scale hits by artists who appeared either on its label proper, or on one of its licensees'. In the case of saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr., these are sides he cut for Creed Taylor's Kudu imprint - Motown’s jazz label at the time - between 1971 and 1978. The six selections are all covers of very popular soul or pop numbers, and come from recordings like Inner City Blues, All the King’s Horses, and Soul Box, Vol. 2, though the gorgeous reading of Billy Joel's “All the Things You Are” comes from 1978’s Reed Seed…
The aptly titled and much-sampled Feels So Good represents the creative apex of Grover Washington, Jr.'s sublime electric funk sound. Its shimmering, soulful grooves refute the argument that smooth jazz is little more than mere ambience, combining expert playing and intricate songwriting to create music that is both compelling and comforting. Arranger Bob James is in top form here, creating the spacious, rich milieus that are his trademark, but regardless of the name above the title, bassist Louis Johnson is the real star of the show. His supple rhythms percolate like coffee, adding oomph to the bottom of highlights "Hydra" and "Knucklehead" while Washington's cream-and-sugar soprano sax solos soar over the top.
Reed Seed was Grover Washington, Jr.'s final album for Kudu/Motown. It was also one of two recordings his issued in 1978 – the other is the stone-killer live set Live at the Bijou. While the saxophonist had been experimenting with funk since 1971's Inner City Blues, by 1975's breakthrough recordings Mister Magic and Feels So Good, he'd perfected his groove. His appeal to fans of more radio-friendly material was ready: he had stellar grooves, very polished production, and accessible arrangements – not too mention his stellar emotive attack on any saxophone he chose to play. Many straight-ahead jazz fans dug Washington's sound as well because of his technical facility on his instruments.
Paradise written by John Blake, is one of those pieces that you can listen too and never tire off. Like a walk through paradise, it is constantly revealing beauty and discovery , awesome and spiritual for me I am close to God as i listen to PARADISE the titled song of the ALBUM.. the start of the song is leading you into paradise, and it guides you on a journey throughout Paradise as you venture on, like a ride you enjoy that stops too soon. Paradise invites you to come back again.
Although Grover Washington Jr. (on alto, tenor, soprano and baritone) puts on his usual strong effort, the forgettable material (which included no hits) and the emphasis on vocals (particularly those of Jon Lucien who is on five of the seven selections) makes this one of Washington's weaker efforts and the least essential of his four Elektra recordings. The background vocalists do not help much either. This was Grover Washington, Jr.'s only full-length album as a leader during the 1982-86 period but was not worth the effort.
While it's true that Grover Washington, Jr.'s first album as a leader was the wonderful Inner City Blues album on Creed Taylor's Kudu label, the sessions included here predate it and feature Washington Jr. in the role of sideman to Charles Earland, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, Boogaloo Joe Jones, and Leon Spencer Jr.. The nine cuts included here were recorded between September 1970 and August 1971. Most of them are straight-ahead blowing B-3 dates where the emphasis on groove and grit is equal and pervasive. While there isn't a weak track here and Washington's playing is deeper in the register than in his later material, there is one irritating factor about the assemblage of the album.
Grover Washington Jr. (December 12, 1943 – December 17, 1999) was an American jazz-funk / soul-jazz saxophonist. Along with George Benson, John Klemmer, David Sanborn, Bob James, Chuck Mangione, Dave Grusin, Herb Alpert, and Spyro Gyra, he is considered by many to be one of the founders of the smooth jazz genre. He wrote some of his material and later became an arranger and producer.