Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Review: Grover Washington Jnr - Feels So Good

‘Feels So Good’ is possibly the peak of Grover Washington Jnr’s ‘70’s electric smooth-funk music, with its equally deep soul and groove overcoming any criticism that accompanies the dreaded phrase of ‘smooth jazz’ that sometimes gets flung his way (Personal note here: Grover helped pioneer smooth soulful groove jazz, it was only later that others came along and invented a neutered take on it that would eventually become ‘Smooth Jazz’). Intricately composed and played with typically expert hands, it is music that comforts but contains just as much pulse and attention grabbing musicality that it compels you to listen instead of just relegating it to mere background wallpaper.

Bob James can’t be credited enough here, with some gorgeous arrangements for some well-deployed horns, as well as providing some perfectly pitched acoustic and electric piano coming to the fore. James also wrote the lead-off tune ‘Sea Lion’ which is a nicely strutting start, with plenty of funk and Washington showing his velvety tenor saxophone playing to great effect. The moody ‘Moonstreams’ offers us Washingtons more distinctive creamy soprano sax, with some spell-binding guitar licks courtesy of the phenomenally under-appreciated Eric Gale who very almost owns the highlight of the record here, ‘Knucklehead’. Very funky stuff, it and ‘Hydra’ showcase some fine and visceral improvising from Washington and his group, as well as the awesome bass work that forms the musical spine of the session from Louis Johnson.

A favourite for the hip-hop crowds sampling and re-tooling, everything here – solos, rhythms, beats - has been re-cut, borrowed or looped numerous times for dozens of different artists, often to great success. A bright jewel in a rich discography, ‘Feels So Good’ is the perfect title to Grover Washingtons excellent and sophisticated, smooth-as-silk take on funk, and if you have even just a passing interest in his music, this is a great starting point for you.


No comments:

Post a Comment