🎷 AotW: Kudu Grover Washington, Jr.: Inner City Blues (Kudu Records KU-03)

Kudu Records Album of the Week
1673318018719.pngGrover Washington, Jr.: Inner City Blues

Kudu Records KU-03
Released 1972
  • A1 - Inner City Blues
  • A2 - Georgia on My Mind
  • A3 - Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)
  • B1 - Ain't No Sunshine/Better Days Theme From "Man and Boy"
  • B2 - Until It's Time for You to Go
  • B3 - I Loves You Porgy
Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Grover Washington, Jr.
Arranged By, Conductor – Bob James
Baritone Saxophone – Don Ashworth
Bass – Don Ashworth, Ron Carter
Cello – Alan Shulman, Anthony Sophos, Charles McCracken, Maurice Brown
Design [Album] – Bob Ciano
Drums – Idris Muhammad
Electric Piano – Bob James
Engineer – Rudy Van Gelder
Guitar – Eric Gale
Organ – Richard Tee
Percussion – Airto Moreira
Photography By – Steve Salmieri
Producer – Creed Taylor
Trombone – Wayne Andre
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Eugene Young
Trumpet, French Horn – Thad Jones
Violin – Harry Katzman, Julius Brand, Julius Held, Leo Kahn, Max Pollikoff, Paul Gershman, Paul Winter, Raoul Poliakin
Vocals – Hilda Harris, Maretha Stewart*, Marilyn Jackson, Tasha Thomas

Recorded at Van Gelder Studios in September 1971

Amazon product ASIN B01AXM8TG6

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Aside from appearing on other artists' albums on Kudu, Grover Washington, Jr. would become one of Kudu's star signings, and go onto even bigger things once he left the label ("Just the Two of Us" with Bill Withers is his best-known hit). His Kudu albums are squarely in soul-jazz territory, with the usual Creed Taylor accoutrements on some of the bigger production tracks. Inner City Blues is a bit heavier on the production, although the title track is more like tracks from later albums that feature Washington and the rhythm section more prominently.

One oddity to point out if you're looking for reissies of Washington's Kudu records--these are not held by Columbia (now Sony Legacy). When CTI ran into distribution problems in the 70s, Motown distributed their albums for a while. Control of Kudu eventually ended up in Columbia's hands, but Washington's albums remained with Motown (now in Universal's hands). I don't know if it had anything to do with Washington being good friends with Marvin Gaye, but that's how it all played out.
I listened to this (prior to reading the credits...) and vetoed it as just being too smooth. (I abhor "smooth" jazz -- which I call "music for copulation and other urban endeavours"). I see Bob James is involved. Of course. Aside from the Gershwin piece and perhaps one other, I'll pass on this one.
The only track that stood out to me was the title track, where the rest were indeed a bit too smooth and production-heavy. From the few Grover albums I've heard, musically they grab my attention more when there's either less production, or the production/orchestration has something more to say than being an audio wallpaper behind the main soloist.
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