One of the most electrified of Grover Washington, Jr.'s albums, this Columbia set features the popular saxophonist (who plays soprano, alto and tenor) joined by oversized rhythm sections and plenty of keyboards on a variety of funky and danceable material.
"Skylarkin'" was jazz saxophonist, Grover Washington Jr's final release with Motown Records. The session group featured well respected musicians who are legends today….Marcus Miller on bass, Eric Gale on guitar, Steve Gadd on drums, and Richard Tee on piano and keyboards. The album also featured Grover Washington Jr's signature sound that transcended various musical genres. His phrasing and harmonic sound has been an influence that is still prevalent today. Grover Washington Jr's music elevates the spirit with cool melodies and rhythms that shine with each composition.
Grover Washington, Jr., has long been one of the leaders in what could be called rhythm & jazz, essentially R&B-influenced jazz. Winelight is one of his finest albums, and not primarily because of the Bill Withers hit "Just the Two of Us." It is the five instrumentals that find Washington (on soprano, alto, and tenor) really stretching out. If he had been only interested in sales, Washington's solos could have been half as long and he would have stuck closely to the melody. Instead he really pushes himself on some of these selections, particularly the title cut. A memorable set of high-quality and danceable soul-jazz.
One of the most popular saxophonists of all time, Grover Washington, Jr. was a pacesetter in his field. With roots in rhythm and blues and soul-jazz organ combinations, he also played straight-ahead jazz. A highly influential player, Washington pushes himself with the spontaneity and chance-taking of a masterful jazz musician.A renowned live performer, Washington is able to display his own personal voices on soprano, tenor, alto and even his infrequently used baritone sax.
This is one of Grover Washington, Jr.'s occasional strays away from R&B-oriented jazz to play in a more straightahead setting. Switching between soprano, alto and tenor, Grover is accompanied by either Tommy Flanagan or Herbie Hancock on piano during five of the eight selections and he performs such numbers as Ron Carter's "Blues for D.P.," "Stolen Moments" and "Stella by Starlight" with swing and taste. Tenor-saxophonist Igor Butman also helps out on three songs. Worth acquiring.
This is one of Grover Washington, Jr.'s best-loved recordings and considered a classic of r&bish jazz. All four songs (which includes Billy Strayhorn's "Passion Flower") are quite enjoyable but it is "Mister Magic" that really caught on as a major hit. Bob James provided the colorful if somewhat commercial arrangements, there are spots for guitarist Eric Gale, and Washington (mostly on tenor and soprano) is heard in particularly creative form. Highly recommended.(Scott Yanow - AllMusic Guide)
Grover Washington Jr. made his mark early on with hit recordings for Kudu and Motown. After he switched to Elektra, the soulful saxophonist debuted on the label with Paradise, a decent but not overly memorable effort. Washington (on soprano, tenor, flute and baritone) plays quite well as do the members of his septet (which include violinist John Blake, guitarist Richard Steacker and bassist Tyrone Brown) but the material (seven group originals) failed to include any really catchy melodies or strong hits. This date is therefore more for Grover Washington completists than for general fans of the idiom. Washington's next project would be his best-selling Winelight.
Soulful Strut is a typically smooth and swinging date from Grover Washington, Jr. Occasionally, the production by Walter Afanasieff is too slick and commercial, diluting the impact of Washington's subtle, relaxed groove. Fortunately, Washington's instrumental skills cut through the gloss, making Soulful Strut another worthy record for mainstream soul-jazz fans.