Album Review: Live at the Bijou, Grover Washington Jr., 1977

If you think of “adult contemporary” music when you hear Grover Washington Jr.’s name, you need to listen to this and stand corrected. Washington brings a driving funk sound to his jazz and is a virtuoso improvisor.

Without exaggeration, this is in my top 10 albums of all time, in any genre. Every track is strong in its own way and works perfectly in the sequence on the album. Even the 20+ minute opus midway through is thoroughly listenable. The opening track, “On the Cusp,” has one of the best intros ever, with an electric keyboard bursting onto the scene, completely upstaging the muted baseline that opens the song. “Funkfoot” is an exceptional finish that makes you leap out of your seat, just as the live audience undoubtedly did on that May night in Philadelphia. Oh to be at the Bijou when this magic was made!

I have to give credit to Toronto DJ’s Mike Tull and Paul E. Lopez for introducing me to “Funkfoot” on their community radio show, Vibes & Stuff, which aired on CIUT 89.5FM in the late 1980s. It took me 10 years to find this recording after I first heard it on their show. Oddly, it was in a strip mall in Dallas, Texas where I finally found the disc, well before the days of iTunes.

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