Saturday, October 20, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Grover Washington Jr.

Artist:Grover Washington Jr. f/Bill Withers
Song:Just The Two Of Us
Album:Ultimate Collection

Sax player Grover Washington Jr. was very successful in the 70s. He crossed over to the R & B charts and then crossed over to pop with the 1981 top five hit Just The Two Of Us. He is considered to be one of the pioneers of Smooth Jazz. He was born Dec. 12, 1943 in Buffalo. His dad was a sax player and a big jazz fan. He bought Grover Jr. a sax when he was eight years old. Washington moved to Ohio and played with The Four Clefs and in 1964 he recorded with the Mark III Trio. He was drafted into the US Army and met drummer Billy Cobham. Cobham introduced him to New York musicians. Cobham was playing with Horace Silver at the time. Washington moved to Philadelphia in 1967 and played with organists Leon Spencer, Charles Earland and Johnny "Hammond" Smith. Smith signed a contract with Creed Taylor's Kudu label and Washington was to record with him. Also on that label was legendary sax player Hank Crawford. When Crawford was unable to make a 1970 recording session, Taylor had Washington fill in for him and that got him a deal with Kudu and Washington's debut album Inner City Blues. His first commercial success was when the 1974 album Mister Magic reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 200. And he also had success on the R & B chart. Washington left Kudu for Motown in 1977 and then signed with Elektra in 1979. Just The Two Of Us is from his 1980 Elektra debut album Winelight. The song reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981 and also won a Grammy for Best R & B Song. Withers wrote the song with veteran percussionist Ralph McDonald and his partner William Salter. McDonald also co-produced Winelight with Washington and played on the album along with Eric Gale on guitar, Richard Tee and Paul Griffin on keyboards, Marcus Miller on bass and Steve Gadd on drums. Just The Two Of Us was also released by Columbia on Bill Withers Greatest Hits. Withers never recorded it for one of his own albums. This Hip-O comp covers Washington's entire career. Washington left Elektra for Columbia in 1985 and was still going strong when he died of a heart attack while waiting in the green room after taping a performance for the CBS show The Saturday Early Show Dec. 17, 1999 at age 56. Grover Washington Jr. and Bill Withers never performed Just The Two Of Us together. There is a clip on Daily Motion of Withers lip syncing the song on American Bandstand. Washington usually brought in singers to sing the words and frame it up for his solos. So here's Grover Washington Jr. featuring Zack Sanders on vocals performing Just The Two Of Us June 27, 1981 at the Schubert Theatre in Philadelphia. It also features the musicians who played on Winelight including Eric Gale, Richard Tee, Paul Griffin, Steve Gadd and Ralph McDonald.

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