Anthology [Elektra]

by: Grover Washington, Jr.

Anyone who had seen Grover Washington, Jr. live could attest to the fact that whether he was playing electric jazz-funk or going acoustic on Billy Strayhorn's music, the Philly resident was a masterful saxman with as much technique as soul and charisma. However, the distinctive saxman's studio recordings (which range from outstanding to watered down) didn't always demonstrate just how commanding an improviser he could be. Anthology, a 1985 CD focusing on his work for Elektra, contains more hits than misses. Well worth hearing are jazz/R&B/pop instrumentals like the congenial "East River Drive" and the seductive "Let It Flow," and the R&B numbers "The Best Is Yet to Come" (which boasts a heartfelt vocal by Patti LaBelle) and Washington's major hit with Bill Withers, "Just the Two of Us." Unfortunately, Elektra made the mistake of including Washington's pointless version of reggae king Bob Marley's "Jammin'" (which is more of a pop cover than a genuine jazz interpretation), the insipid "Jet Stream," and the pleasant but not very memorable "In the Name of Love." ~ Alex Henderson

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