JazzTimes - 3/97, p.87
"...the tastiest groove master out there. Grover's trademark jazzy R&B based grooves are in abundance on SOULFUL STRUT....As is usual for Grover, the basic gist is upbeat, though he gets into a gentle romantic mood, plus a bit of grit, too..."
Personnel includes: Grover Washington, Jr. (soprano, alto & tenor saxophones); Walter Afanasieff (arranger); Wayne Hernandez, Roz Moorehead, Amanda Homi, Katherine Russel, Lindiwe Dlamini, Wincy Terry (vocals); Gary "Headman" Haase (various instruments); Andy Gravish, Tim Ouimelte, Mac Gallohon, Jim Powell, Herb Hubel (brass); Dale Kelps, Aaron Heick, Rick DePofi (woodwinds); Donald Robinson, Dan Shea, Charlie Ernst, George Whitty (keyboards); Ray Obiedo, Chris Taylor, Paul Pimsler, Dann Huff, Richard Lee Steacker, Randy Bowland, Steve Bargonetti (guitar); Gerald Veasley (bass); Steve Gadd, Steve Wolf, Richie Morales, Omar Hakim (drums); Roger Squitero, Pablo Batista, Joe Bonadio, Ciro Baptist, Nobert Goldberg (percussion).
Producers: Dan Shea, Gary "Headman" Haase, Donald Robinson, Billy Mann.
Engineers include: Dan Shea, Bob Cadway, Marc Glass.
Principally recorded at The Dream Factory and Current Sounds, New York, New York; Morning Star Communications, Inc., Spring House, Pennsylvania.
"Soulful Strut" was nominated for a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.
This talented reedsman first hit the big time in the mid-'70s, with an appealing brand of instrumental, funk-inflected jazz (remember MISTER MAGIC?). Washington is still blowing his alto and soprano saxophones in much the same style, and to much the same mesmerizing effect. This is a groove-oriented approach. In other words, he cares more about the overall, rhythmic feel of a piece than the improvisation-for-improvisation's sake so often associated with traditional jazz.
Lush, romantic ballads rule here, as tunes like "Can You Stop the Rain" and "I Can Count the Times" showcase Washington's highly-developed feel for a melody. His formula is effective--he defines his ground on the first chorus, playing it more or less straight, then uses the subsequent bars to eplore the musical possibilities. Washington also explores his roots, with some West-African rhythmic stylings in "Village Groove" and "Headman's Haunt." Jazz "purists" should probably look elsewhere. But if you like a well-defined beat as the backbone for superlative solo work, you should enjoy this soulful sonic strut.