This week’s Vinyl Vault feature will be an album from sax man Grover Washington, Jr. entitled “Reed Seed.” Released in 1978 on Motown, this was Washington’s last album before switching to the Elektra label. Coming only three years after his breakout hit, “Mr. Magic,” this album features a similar feel with numerous gradations of funky jazz. And of course, Washington’s virtuoso saxophone plays on top of it all.
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Washington is heard on all four major members of the saxophone family, soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone. To top it off, Washington also plays flute on the album. He’s backed by a band calling themselves Locksmith which featured John Blake, Jr. on violin and various keyboards, Tyrone Brown on bass, Doc Gibbs on percussion, Sid Simmons on keyboards, Richard Steacker on electric guitars, and Pete Vinson on drums.
While Washington later moved into more of a smooth jazz sound, “Reed Seed” came down solidly on the straight-ahead jazz side with the R&B/funk underpinning. As compared to “Mr. Magic,” the songs on “Reed Seed” are generally shorter and more focused, but still leaving ample acreage for Washington’s stand-out soloing. The album seems to have been generally overlooked, perhaps because it stood in the shadow of “Mr. Magic” and the mega-hits Washington unleashed later. But for those in the know, “Reed Seed” is at the top of the list of the best Grover Washington, Jr. albums.
Check out “Reed Seed” for yourself and tune into the Vinyl Vault with Geoff Anderson on Tuesday, August 17 at 8:30 pm on KUVO JAZZ.
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