b. Grover Washington Jnr., 12th December 1943, Buffalo, New York, U.S.A.
d. 17th December 1999, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Grover Washington, Jr. was a saxophonist, writer and producer.
He is credited as a founder of the genre ’smooth jazz’, however, his pedigree as a fusion artist runs very much deeper than that ‘lightweight’ term might infer.
Grover was born in Buffalo, New York. in 1943.
His mother sang in the local church, whilst his father was a music collector, by and largely, records relating to the Jazz genre.
His father played saxophone, and a young Grover grew up listening to the likes of Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, amongst others.
Grover was given a saxophone at the age of 8, and began practising with the instrument.
He relocated from Buffalo, joining a group called the Four Clefs.
Grover later played with the Mark III Trio from Mansfield, Ohio.
He was then drafted into the U.S. Army where he met the drummer Billy Cobham.
On leaving the Army, Grover played across New York City, relocating to Philadelphia in 1967.
Grover appeared on Leon Spencer's first two albums on Prestige Records in 1970 and 1971, along with Idris Muhammad and Melvin Sparks.
When the alto sax artist Hank Crawford was unable to make a recording date with Creed Taylor's Kudu Records, Grover stood in and took his place.
inner city blues - 1971 / all the kings horses - 1972 / soul box - 1973 / mister magic - 1975
It was at Kudu that Grover signed to and released, ‘Inner City Blues’, his first album in 1971.
Three further albums followed, however, it was his fourth album in 1974, ‘Mister Magic’, that his career began to take off.
The album climbed to number 10 in Billboard's Top 40 album chart.
‘Mr. Magic’ reached number 16 on the R&B singles chart ( and number 54, pop).
Grovers established session players included the guitarist Eric Gale.
feels so good - 1975 / a secret place - 1976 / live at the bijou - 1977 / reed seed - 1978
In 1975, his fifth solo album, ‘Feels So Good’ reached number 10 on the album chart.
In 1977, Grover released the live album ‘Live At The Bijou’, which contained two tracks which would cement his following for years to come, with the Soul and Jazz fraternity.
‘Summer Song’ and ‘Sausolito’ have achieved classic status amongst Soul music fans, with the album being seen by many, as the finest live album released in the last 50 years or so.
paradise - 1979 / skylarkin' - 1980 / winelight - 1980 / come morning - 1981
At the outset of the Eighties, Grover's albums began to take on a more polished sound.
‘Winelight’ (in 1980) saw a label change to Elektra Records, and featured the tracks ‘Let It Flow’, along with a fine collaboration with Bill Withers, on ‘Just the Two of Us’.
the best is yet to come - 1982 / inside moves - 1984 / strawberry moon - 1987 / then and now - 1988
The latter song reached number 2 on the Hot 100, going platinum in 1981, and winning Grammy Awards in 1982 for Best R&B Song and Best Jazz Fusion Performance.
time out of mind - 1989 / next exit - 1992 / all my tomorrows - 1994 / soulful strut - 1996
His 1981 album, ‘Come Morning’, featured the radio friendly ‘Little Black Samba’, whilst 1989’s ‘Time Out Of Mind’ realised a vocal song performed by the late Phyllis Hyman on ‘Sacred Kind Of Love’.
Sadly, on the 17th of December 1999, five days after his 56th birthday, Grover suddenly collapsed.
He had been waiting in the Green Room after taping four songs for The Saturday Early Show, at CBS Studios in New York City.
He was taken to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Grover had suffered a massive heart attack.
He is survived by his wife, Christine Washington, a son, Grover Washington III, and a daughter, Shana Washington.
Inner City Blues (Kudu Records 1971)
All The King's Horses (Kudu Records 1972)
Soul Box (Kudu Records 1973)
Mister Magic (Kudu Records 1975)
Feels So Good (Kudu Records 1975)
A Secret Place (Kudu Records 1976)
Live At The Bijou (Kudu Records 1977)
Reed Seed (Motown Records 1978)
Paradise (Elektra Records 1979)
Skylarkin' (Motown Records 1980)
Winelight (Elektra Records 1980)
Come Morning (Elektra Records 1981)
The Best Is Yet To Come (Elektra Records 1982)
Inside Moves (Elektra Records 1984)
Playboy Jazz Festival (Elektra Records 1984)
Strawberry Moon (Columbia Records 1987)
Then And Now (Columbia Records 1988)
Time Out Of Mind (Columbia Records 1989)
Next Exit (Columbia Records 1992)
All My Tomorrows (Columbia Records 1994)
Soulful Strut (Columbia Records 1996)