American saxophonist Grover Washington Jr was born and raised in New York City. From a young age he was taught the sax and for his musical output in the 70s is considered a pioneer in the world of Smooth Jazz. Like Return To Forever's "Romantic Warrior", this is another record from the "Jazz Classics" that quickly defined itself as a calmer, smoother, soulful record that cruises through relaxed, chilled out numbers and grooves that bring a spicy of funk to an obvious Smooth Jazz vibe led by Grover's steady leads on the sax. This record and "Mister Magic" released the same year remain as his commercial peaks on the American billboard charts.
Smooth around the edges, this record actually contains a fair amount of funk and energy between the calmer, atypical styles of Smooth Jazz. The opener, "The Sea Lion" has a powerful narration from the string section which fades in from black to brew the bolder moments, seemingly jumping it at will to emphasize the point. Never as ever present, it drifts to the background for the rest of the record which jives and jams its way through colorful themes of class and style from a now retro past. "Moonstreams" is an exception as the records sleepy number that slowly drifts down the river as a gentle lead guitar plucks a mellow, tender soul.
The last three tracks delve deeper into the Funk and Smooth chemistry as tight chunky baselines strut under soulful saxophone leads that feel their way through the jam. The drums are there throughout, accommodating the flow but feel damp and contained in a mix that gives the aesthetic a lot of clarity for the other instruments. Its a record thats engaging, but far from memorable. It suits a mood but fails to leave a melody or moment in my mind.
Favorite Tracks: Knucklehead, Hydra