Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Grover Washington, Jr.-Winelight (1980)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 9, 2015

Jazz music and 80's music—a wonderfully killer combination for my listening ears! Surprising even to me, I only own one album of recordings by the late Grover Washington, Jr., and some of you readers may already know why I have that particular one. 1980's "Winelight" spawned perhaps one of the most memorable smooth jazz hits of my favorite decade: "Just The Two Of Us", his famous collaboration with Bill Withers that still receives generous airplay on the radio channels after all these years. A timeless classic tailor-made for setting a romantic mood for two people in love.....a timeless classic that'll stay with me for the rest of my life! Except with Grover's proper 7+ minute album version, which I believe much of the general popular music audience may not have ever heard, you get more of that wonderfully starry melody and smooth groove, not to mention that amazing saxophone playing alongside the darling vocals of Mr. Withers and those sweet voices of the ladies echoing 'just the two of us' after him. I recall in my younger days when I would often get this song confused with "Give me The Night", another smooth jazz favorite of mine recorded by fellow jazz phenom George Benson. Must've been something in that smooth rhythm and the backup vocals, which are also provided by guest female singers. At about the four-minute mark midway through "Just The Two Of Us" is the best moment for me, because Grover and his saxophone virtually steal the show with an unmatched flurry of seamless melodies that only someone as skilled as Grover could perform! Yet there's much more dazzling jazz beyond this timeless classic; the entertainment commences with the opening title cut. 7+ minutes of music bliss on this one as well, and the highlight above the groovy, near-disco dance rhythm is those piercing high notes that extend for several movements! The saxophone is just plain sexy on the next jam, "Let It Flow (For Dr. J)". Then those piercing high notes enjoyed on the opener are enjoyed again on "In The Name Of Love", one that I particularly adore at the midway break when the melody shifts for a few movements. There are some smooth jazz tunes that make me feel like gettin' up and dancin', and "Take Me There" is one that quite literally takes me there! The light bossa nova rhythm sets the table, but it's Grover's saxophoning that spices things up, especially in the second movement when the tempo picks up pace. As a nice finishing touch, "Make Me A Memory" is a seductive groove to sway to, accented by the blaring high notes in the closing seconds. Gonna be up late? Let the sweet jazz sounds of "Winelight" be your light that you leave on tonight:

1. Winelight
2. Let It Flow (For Dr. J)
3. In The Name Of Love
4. Take Me There
5. Just The Two Of Us
6. Make Me A Memory

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