top of page

Original Vinyl on Kudu . Cover ( VG) Vinyl (VG+)

In the late 1960s, early 1970s a number of jazz musicians drew closer to Soul and R&B. Sometimes there was a political purpose behind this move (Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Albert Ayler), the attempt to create a synthesis of African-American music that spoke to a broader Black audience – but sometimes this move just reflected a commercial strategy and I presume this Creed Taylor production was one of the latter. And it would be easy to dismiss the album as a piece of funk-lite – its funky rhythms and lush production make it easy to catalogue under easy listening jazz. But, while not denying the album’s limitations, I think it would be unfair to overlook the sincerity and capability of many of the musicians on the album – most obviously the playing of Grover Washington. But there are problems. Listen to the first track: there is the solid funk rhythm – and this is mostly due to Ron Carter’s bass: while I think this is fairly straight forward stuff compared to Carter at his best, it does what it is supposed to do superbly – and there is some nice guitar (Eric Gayle) and nice electric piano (Bob James) and, of course, some nice tenor (Washington), but it lacks any great focus – I keep expecting the vocals to come in. The other tracks do have a focus: Grover Washington’s sax. But listen to Ain’t No Sunshine: a nice guitar-electric piano intro, then Washington comes in strong and bold and loving the melody, but then, after a while the violins lush their way in, and a bit later the backing vocals gush away – the melodies remain dominant, a comfy eiderdown of sound. But, then, listen to Washington: he speaks directly to the audience, there are no fancy jazz intricacies; and he doesn’t overwhelm us with emotion – there is no Southern Soul melodrama; it is the equivalent of Marvin Gaye, a beautiful, intimate sound.

Grover Washington Jr - Inner City Blues

    bottom of page