Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this music junkie as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. Compact Discs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no files.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Grover Washington, Jr - Skylarkin' (1980)

Japanese Import

Just what you would expect: a great mix of smooth jazz/instrumental R&B made by a stellar cast of musicians including guitarist Eric Gale and bassist Marcus Miller. Washington's saxophone tone is immediately recognizable as is keyboardist Richard Tee's characteristic Fender Rhodes electric piano fed through a phase shifter - man, I love that sound. Jazz critics of the time didn't like Washington's smooth, melodic crossover sound but none of that matters to me.  (However, a Downbeat magazine reviewer wrote if “commercial jazz saxophonists exalted to monarchic positions, Grover Washington Jr. would be the sovereign.” Play this smooth 37 minute album back-to-back with Washington's subsequent work on the Elektra label and it makes for a delightful evening (or morning or afternoon, for that matter).

Press of the time:

Chart peaks:
  • US Billboard Top 200 chart: #24
  • Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #1
  • Billboard's R&B albums chart: #8
  • CashBox album chart: #30 
  • CashBox Jazz albums chart: #2
  • Rolling Stone chart: #43

Tracks:  It's all good. Top marks go to Snake Eyes (which funks it up with a tasty clavinet part) and the cover of the Stevie Wonder tune I Can't Help It (with its sweet bass line), originally recorded by Michael Jackson on his Off the Wall album.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD:  None, but this week I've had several Grover Washington, Jr. listening marathons, utilizing vinyl, CDs, and digital files. This album, of course, was a part of those marathons.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Prime Cuts: The Columbia Years 1987-1999 (1999)
All My Tomorrows (1994)
Time Out of Mind (1989)
Anthology of Grover Washington, Jr. (1985)

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