To me, December is always Grover Washington, Jr. month. He was born in December and passed away in December.
Grover is a contemporary jazz legend. He was a pioneer in the soul-jazz movement. I can hear his distinctive sound on any recording. There has been no one like him.
Let’s celebrate his legacy this month. Share your thoughts on Grover. Post a comment here about your favorite recordings, concert memories, etc. Or start this going on Twitter – #GroverWashingtonJrMonth. I’ll be sharing too through December 17, when he suddenly left us.
Seeing the gathering of living presidents at the George H.W. Bush funeral today made me think of the inauguration of Bill Clinton. That monster gathering of super-saxmen: Sanborn, Brecker, Mulligan, Washington, Jr., Albright, G, Whalum…
Happy birthday to one of my very favorite trumpeters, Arturo Sandoval (born in 1949)!
His birthday falls on a very important election day in the U.S., the country where Sandoval has been a naturalized citizen for twenty years. He defected from Cuba in 1990. Learn about Sandoval’s flight to freedom from his site and the American Sabor site.
Here are three of my favorite pieces featuring the trumpet legend:
“Funky Cha Cha” – A blistering song with extra hot sauce from Michael Brecker
“Angelfire” – This cut from the Rippingtons’ Black Diamond release lets Arturo let loose a bit at the end. You can always count on the man to deliver. And it’s a good Russ Freeman composition and production, easily one of the best “cool fire” tracks in my library.
Leonid and Friends is a collective of Russian musicians who have been doing excellent covers of songs by the band Chicago. One of their latest is “Street Player” which features Arturo maybe sitting in his house, sitting down and still blowing out an incredible solo. He even hits an impossibly high note that I don’t think I’ve ever heard a trumpeter do before.
The next Lee Ritenour recording will be solo guitar, the contemporary jazz legend told The Bulletin in October. “I’ve done almost 45 albums (and) never ever done a solo guitar record,” Ritenour said. “I thought it was really overdue, so I’ve been slowly preparing that the last couple (of) years — a lot of new compositions and there’ll be some standards.”
As for Captain Fingers rejoining Fourplay, Rit was elusive when asked about it last year following the death of Chuck Loeb. During audience Q&A before a performance in Kansas City, he didn’t say yes or no. Instead he talked about the magic that happens when the right musicians come together at the right time.
The Will Downing and Gerald Albright collaboration, Pleasures of the Night, was the best-selling contemporary jazz recording according to the October 31, 1998 issue of Billboard. At the time, Downing said, ““This is a departure for us both. It’s pretty much a traditional sounding record with flavorings of contemporary jazz sprinkled in so as not to exclude the audiences we’ve already built up over the years. It gives both of us an opportunity to stretch out more than our own records. It’s not often that you have the opportunity to do exactly what you want to do, no holds barred.”
Here’s the complete Top Contemporary Jazz Albums for that time:
Will Downing and Gerald Albright – Pleasures of the Night
Kenny G – Greatest Hits
Rick Braun – Full Stride
Down to the Bone – From Manhattan to Staten
George Benson – Standing Together
Fourplay – 4
Keiko Matsui – Full Moon and the Shrine
Marc Antoine – Madrid
Various Artists – KKSF Sampler for AIDS Relief, Volume 9
Medeski, Martin and Wood – Combustication
Also of note in that top ten is that the debut recording of Down to the Bone was in its 37th week on the chart.