Monday, June 28, 2010

Kenny Burrell & Grover Washington - Togethering

In the early '70s, Kenny Burrell met Grover Washington, Jr. in Chicago where they jammed together at the Jazz Showcase, promising someday to get together and make a record. In 1984, well after Washington's massive commercial disco hit "Mr. Magic," the saxophonist had the inclination to do a straight-ahead jazz record, and reconnected with master guitarist Burrell to do this one-off project. Drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist Ron Carter, and percussionist Ralph MacDonald joined the front men, the entire combo being CTI label refugees, to do this project for Blue Note records. This turned out to be a most satisfying session, with few -- if any -- commercial concessions. Only standards, originals, and Brazilian-tinged tunes are played, with not a hint of rote funk or fusion as these players had produced a decade prior. Togethering is a great title in that many of the melodies are practiced and well rehearsed for Burrell and Washington  to play in tandem. They strike an attractive sonic pose on the modern, airy Richard Evans tune "Soulero" that goes earthy and funky, a really good song with fine solos. The quirky and intriguing title track has the principals playing alongside each other, but diving off in angular degrees a la Thelonious Monk. Carter's deep soul hues during "Asphalt Canyon Blues" with Burrell's guitar tagging along also makes for interesting, non-standardized listening. There are two Duke Ellington offerings, including Burrell's popping sounds setting off the straight-ahead "What Am I Here For?," while the regretful ballad "Day Dream" has Washington's soprano all wistful and imaginary during this inspired, spatial take. The lone tune on tenor saxophone for Washington  is "A Beautiful Friendship," and he assimilates the languid, relaxed tone of his first hero, Sonny Rollins. If any purist mainstream jazz listeners ever had problems with these musicians going for a buck by putting more R&B into their music, all is forgiven with the issuance of this marvelous album, which is more of a showcase for their true colors and collective musicianship beyond their commercialized efforts. Burrell and Washington  proved to be a fine pairing -- a subtle, effective jazz partnership. - by Michael G. Nastos, AMG

Artist: Kenny Burrell
Album: Kenny Burrell & Grover Washington
Year: 1985
Label: Blue Note
Total time: 52:27

1.  Soulero (Richard Evans) 4:36
2.  Sails of Your Soul (Grover Washington) 5:23
3.  Day Dream (Duke Ellington/John Latouche/Billy Strayhorn) 5:01
4.  A Beautiful Friendship (Donald Kahn/Stanley Styne) 5:04
5.  Togethering (Kenny Burrell)  4:36
6.  Romance Dance (Kenny Burrell) 3:28
7.  Asphalt Canyon Blues (Kenny Burrell)  6:19
8.  What am I Here For? (Duke Ellington/Frankie Laine) 4:46
9.  Summertime (George Gerschwin/Ira Greschwin/Dubose Heyward) 7:19
10.  I'm Glad There is You (Jimmy Dorsey/Paul Mertz) 5:51

Kenny Burrell (Guitar)
Grover Washington Jr. (Soprano and Tenor Saxophone)
Ron Carter (Double Bass) - 1-8
Jack DeJohnette (Drums) - 1-8
Ralph MacDonald (Percussion) - 2,6
Reggie Workman (Double Bass) - 9,10
Grady Tate (Drums) - 9,10

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