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     Washington Jr., Grover (12th December 1943-17th December 1999)

    He was a saxophonist and songwriter born in Buffalo, New York, to a family where his father was a saxophonist and jazz record collector and his mother was a chorister in the local church.  When he was eight years old his father gave him a saxophone and he would often try and peek in the local clubs to see if he could see any of the renowned musicians from the area playing blues.  When he got older he moved to the Midwest where he became a member of The Four Clefs and stayed with them from 1959 to 1963 before he found himself in the army after having been drafted.  This was not a bad thing for him though as he met up with Billy Cobham who was a well-known drummer in New York and it was through him that he managed to link up with several musicians from that area.  He became a freelance saxophonist when he left his service and was heard all over New York before deciding in 1967 to go on to Philadelphia.  He started recording for Kudu Records after being called in as a replacement for Hank Crawford who couldn't be there for a session on a particular occasion and this would be turn into stroke of luck for him as from there as he continued to work with the label and released his debut album, Inner City Blues, in 1971.  His pioneering smooth jazz sound performed on all ranges of saxophone got him noticed and from then on he released many further highly acclaimed albums with later hit singles such as "The Best Is Yet to Come", "Mr. Magic", "Sacred Kind of Love" and "Soulful Strut".   In 1980 his album Winelight was possibly the pinnacle of his success and gained four Grammy Award nominations and two wins.  This album produced the Billboard Hot 100 No. 2 hit "Just the Two Of Us" which had Bill Withers on vocals and is still regularly heard on radio today.  Not only was he an extremely successful solo artist, he was a huge influence to many others and helped to gain attention for musicians such as Walter Beasley, Steve Cole, Eric Gale, Kenny G and Najee among many others.  At the same time he often appeared with other artists on their recordings and on stage and these include Roy Ayers, Philip Bailey, The Four Tops, Steve Gadd, Dave Grusin, Herbie Hancock, Eddie Henderson, Phyllis Hyman, B.B, King, Patti Labelle, Ralph MacDonald, Carmen McRae, Marcus Miller, Idris Muhammed, Jean-Luc Ponty, Tom Scott and Richard Tee among many others.  His albums were many and include his own All the King's Horses, Aria, The Best Is Yet to Come, Come Morning, Mister Magic, Next Exit, Reed Seed, A Secret Place, Skylarkin', Strawberry Moon and Then and Now as well as Hot Water by Jimmy Buffett, Hommage a Duke by Duke Ellington, Born to Sing by En Vogue, I'm the One by Roberta Flack, Breakout with Johnny Hammond, Here and There: The Uncollected B.B. King by B.B. King, Dune by David Matthews, Dragonfly with Gerry Mulligan, Only Human by Jeffrey Osborne, Louisiana Slim with Leon Spencer and Sings Cole Porter by Dionne Warwick, Hollywood Sound by John Williams & The London Symphony Orchestra, Blue Gershwin and the soundtracks of Ladies Man and People to name just a few.  He also dipped into producing and after being involved in the formation of the group Pieces of a Dream he co-produced their first three albums.   After having taped songs for CBS's The Early Show in New York in 1999, he collapsed in the green room from a fatal heart attack.  He had just celebrated his 56th birthday five days prior.

     

    Sources:

    1. http://www.groverwashingtonjr.com/
    2. http://www.pitt.edu/~pittjazz/individual_htmls/grover_washingtonjr.html
    3. http://www.sonyclassical.com/artists/washington/bio.html
    4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grover_Washington,_Jr.
    5. http://www.legacyrecordings.com/Grover-Washington-Jr.aspx
    6. http://www.pandora.com/music/artist/grover+washington+jr
    7. http://www.buffettnews.com/resources/coralreeferband/?bid=147
    8. http://shopping.yahoo.com/p:Grover%20Washington,%20Jr.:1927191250?sort=za
    9. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:gzfuxqtgldhe~T1
    10. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:gzfuxqtgldhe~T4
    11. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:gzfuxqtgldhe~2~T40B
    12. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:gzfuxqtgldhe~3~T40B
    13. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:gzfuxqtgldhe~4~T40B

     

    Here he is performing his "Winelight"...

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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