How Grover Washington Jr. Defined And Transcended 'Smooth Jazz' In this radio episode, Jazz Night in America takes you to a tribute concert honoring the late musician, whose soulful sound was more than just "smooth."

Grover Washington Jr. performs on stage during the "One Night With Blue Note" concert in New York on Feb. 22, 1985. Anthony Barboza/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

Grover Washington Jr. performs on stage during the "One Night With Blue Note" concert in New York on Feb. 22, 1985.

Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program

How Grover Washington Jr. Defined And Transcended 'Smooth Jazz'WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

How Grover Washington Jr. Defined And Transcended 'Smooth Jazz'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/564442111/564555947" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

One way or another, you've heard Grover Washington Jr.'s saxophone. Perhaps on "Mister Magic" or another of his instrumental hits, like "Winelight." Or on "Just the Two of Us," the smash hit featuring Bill Withers. What Washington's sound represents is soul, plain and simple, though it's often been associated with another word: "smooth." A lot of musicians have some choice words to say about that, starting with Washington himself.

Jazz Night in America recently partnered with WRTI, in Grover Washington's adopted hometown of Philadelphia, to present a tribute concert at the Temple Performing Arts Center. In this episode of the radio show, we'll put you in that room with a wildly enthusiastic crowd, to hear a reunion of Grover Washington band members, like bassist Gerald Veasley and keyboardist Bill Jolly, as well as two saxophonic inheritors, Gerald Albright and Najee. We'll also hear from musicians like David Sanborn, a near-contemporary of Washington's, about the legacy and presumptions surrounding "smooth jazz," and the ways in which Washington both defined and transcended it.

PERFORMERS

Najee (tenor and soprano saxophone), Gerald Albright (alto saxophone), Bill Jolly (keyboards, vocals), Donald Robinson (keyboards), Richard Lee Steacker (guitar), Gerald Veasley (bass), Pablo Batista (percussion), Steven Wolf (drums), Carl Cox Jr. (tenor saxophone), Michael Jarosz (trumpet), Brent White (trombone), La' Trese Jones (vocals), Suzanne Burgess (vocals)

CREDITS

Recorded by Weston Sound; Location engineers: Joe Hannigan, Clark Conner; Audio produced, arranged and mixed by Bill Jolly; Presented by The Philadelphia Jazz Project, WXPN, Temple Performing Arts Center, PhillyCAM, WRTI

[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Jess Stacy is featured on this week's episode of Piano Jazz William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress

Jess Stacy On Piano Jazz

As one of the leading pianists of the swing era, Stacy was best known for his work with the Benny Goodman Orchestra and had a prolific career before stepping back from the music world in the 1950's.

Jess Stacy On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/637110919/637149734" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Tony Bennett On Piano Jazz

The iconic vocalist makes an appearance on 'Piano Jazz' and shares his inspirations.

Tony Bennett On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/632750594/632767944" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Bassist Dave Holland and tabla player Zakir Hussain perform as part of Crosscurrents at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center hide caption

toggle caption Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center

Crosscurrents: Converging Jazz And Indian Classical Music

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Explore the influence of Indian music on the jazz and rock scenes of the '60s with tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, prolific bassist Dave Holland and their international ensemble, Crosscurrents.

Harold Mabern Alan Nahigian/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Alan Nahigian/Courtesy of the artist

At The Helm: Harold Mabern, Stalwart Accompanist, At 82

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Harold Mabern has been one of jazz's most consistent accompanists over the last 60 years. In this episode of Jazz Night in America, we explore some of that history with him.

At The Helm: Harold Mabern, Stalwart Accompanist, At 82

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/614517884/614520719" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Barbara Cook performs at the 2014 New York Festival of Song at Carnegie Hall on April 28, 2014 in New York City. Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images

Barbara Cook On Piano Jazz

This week's Piano Jazz from 1998 remembers lyric soprano Barbara Cook, a Broadway star, staple of the New York cabaret scene and favorite of audiences around the world.

Barbara Cook On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/614380119/614428595" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

American jazz trumpeter Harry 'Sweets' Edison performs in 1991. David Redfern/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption David Redfern/Getty Images

Harry 'Sweets' Edison On Piano Jazz

On this episode of Piano Jazz from 1999, broadcast just months before Edison died, the legendary jazz trumpeter joins Marian McPartland for a few classics and an original.

Harry 'Sweets' Edison On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/612283249/612285662" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
George Kopp/Courtesy of the artist

Virginia Mayhew On Piano Jazz

Saxophonist, composer and bandleader Virginia Mayhew joins forces with Marian McPartland to perform "All the Things You Are" and "Body and Soul" on this 1998 episode of Piano Jazz.

Virginia Mayhew On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/610083723/610086310" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Joanne Brackeen and Jason Moran at NPR's Studio One in Washington, D.C. Eric Lee/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Eric Lee/NPR

Jazz Giants Take The Stage At The NEA Jazz Masters Listening Party

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Jason Moran sat down with the NEA Jazz Masters to talk about their careers and listen to music that played important roles in their lives.

Jazz Giants Take The Stage At The NEA Jazz Masters Listening Party

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/608093895/608239849" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top