Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Grover Washington Jr.: Discovery: The First Recordings

On the funky side of things is the Grover Washington Jr. compilation Discovery (Prestige PRCD-11020-2; 69:09). The late tenor-sax great originally recorded these tracks between 1970 and 1971 in his first commercial recording sessions as a sideman for producer Bob Porter and Prestige Records. The seven dates that Grover participated in during that time span were led by organists Charles Earland, Leon Spencer and Johnny “Hammond” Smith and guitarists “Boogaloo” Joe Jones and Melvin Sparks. The 27-year-old saxophonist definitely makes his presence felt on the nine tracks here with his big, rich tone and aggressive horn attack. Organ-ically speaking, the sadly underrecognized sideman Butch Cornell makes the most impressive showing here on the B-3, turning in dynamite performances on a funky “Sunshine Alley,” the funky boogaloo “Inside Job” and an earthy instrumental take on Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move,” and he testifies with unbridled passion on the slow churchy blues “Fadin’.” But it’s the Mighty Burner, Earland, who has the final say on this collection with his show-stopping extended jam on Benny Golson’s “Killer Joe,” recorded live at the Key Club in Newark, N.J., for the Living Black! album (Washington’s first Prestige date). Compilation producer Todd Barkan was wise to put that track last. Because, as B-3 maven Bob Porter so often (and rightly) points out, “Nobody follows the Mighty Burner.” Amen.

Originally Published