Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SMOOTH JAZZ KING

On my way home from my Saturday workout at the Muscle Gym, I stopped at Car City Records in St. Clair Shores to buy the new album by saxophonist Tim Warfield. At the checkout, counter a record seller poured over a stock of used album a man in jeans, flip-flops and a ripped t-shirt wanted to get rid of. In the jazz section, I spotted my friend Cory and Inez his daughter combing through the cd bins. I tapped Cory on the shoulder. He turned surprised to see me. Inez had two Etta James cds in her hand, and Cory had a stack of cds. The new live recording by the late multi-saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. was on top. Cory explained Inez wanted to go record shopping. Inez is 5-year-old. She loves music just as much as her dad, and she someday she wants to be a jazz singer. Cory said a sings all the time. She wakes up every morning singing. Betty Carter and Etta James are Inez's favorite singers. I picked up the cds Cory considered buying. I recommended "Grover Live". I bought the album last week, and I was sure Cory would enjoy it.

"You have to buy this album. I've been listening to it for a solid week," I said putting the other cds down and handing "Grover Live" to Cory.
"It's been a long while since I heard some good smooth jazz," Cory said turning the cd over to read the list of songs Grove performed.
"Grover was the king of smooth jazz in my book," I said.
“Yeah, I agree. He really knew how to merge jazz with R&B. He was the first smooth jazz cat I heard who could improvise just as well as Dexter Gordon," Cory said.
"As strange as that sounds, you're right. I think Washington started out playing the old stuff," I said.
"I don't know for sure," Cory said. "Grover could do it all sweetly as Dexter Gordon would say".

Inez politely cut into are conversation, wanting to know if they could eat at Red Robins. Cory told her if she had enough money left after she bought the two Etta James albums. By her facial expression I could tell, she was hoping her dad would but the albums. Inez told her dad she'd be wiped out. Cory told her would if she wanted Red Robin's she could only buy one of the cds. Cory reminded Inez he paid for dinner and a movie last night, and now it was her turn to buy dinner. Cory gave Inez a weekly allowance. He made her save half, and the rest she could spend. Cory was serious about not letting Inez grow up believing it's a man job to wine and diner her. He wanted her to be self-reliant, and to treat her husband as a partner. Women that thought of men as their sponsors or personal ATM machines bothered Cory, so he vowed Inez wouldn't grow up with that wine and dine mentality. Cory began instilling certain values in her early. If she wanted something outside of the necessities a parent is obligated to provide, Cory made her paid for it from her allowance. Inez hand one cd in each hand. She looked at both and decided to get the cd of Etta James singing loves sounds.

"Daddy, I'll get this one," Inez said fishing the money out her pocket.
"You go of to the counter and pay for it," Cory told her.
"Grover Live' is wonderful. At the concert which was recorded in 1997 in Chicago, Washington performed some new tunes and a medley of some of his signature songs like 'Black Frost,' 'Inner City Blues,' and 'Inside Moves'. Then for an encore, he played 'Mr. Magic'. Listening to the album, I felt like I was at the concerts dancing in front of the stage. I listened to the album in my car. A few times, I wanted to pull over, get out and dance in the street, especially when Washington was improvising on 'Soulful Strut' and the Paul Desmond classic "Take Five".
"How many smooth jazz musicians you know would tackle a Paul Desmond composition," Cory asked.
"Not many. Grover was never afraid to play outside the box," I said.
Inez returned to the jazz section holding a bag with the Etta James cd inside. Cory decided to buy "Grover Live". He asked if I wanted to go to Red Robins with him and Inez. I told him I would take him up on the offer next time, and that I would see him at the barbershop next Thursday. Inez said good-bye. They walked to the checkout so Cory could pay for the Grover Washington Jr. album. I went about looking for the new Tim Warfield album.
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