Groovin' for Grover
GROOVIN' FOR GROVER is a celebration of the music of Grover Washington, Jr., under the auspices of the Grover Washington Jr. Protect the Dream Foundation to benefit young musicians. Bios of the individual artists follow:
GERALD ALBRIGHT's achievements have established the Los Angeles-based musician as one of the most prominent artists in both contemporary and straight-ahead jazz.
He has sold over a million albums in the U.S. alone, and his self-produced music, featuring Albright on bass guitar, keyboards, flutes, and background vocals, have earned him the reputation as the "musician's musician."
Born in South Los Angeles, Albright began piano lessons at an early age, even though he professed no great interest in the instrument. His love of music picked up considerably when he was given a saxophone that belonged to his piano teacher. His interest was further reinforced when he attended Locke High School, a breeding ground for many young West Coast musicians, where his peers at the time included Patrice Rushen and Ndugu.
Already a polished saxophonist by the time he enrolled at the University of Redlands, Albright suddenly switched to bass guitar after he saw Louis Johnson in concert. Soon after college, Albright began to make a name for himself as a sideman of great insight and musicianship, playing both sax and bass on albums by artists such as Anita Baker, Ray Parker, Lola Folana, Atlantic Starr, Olivia Newton-John, the Temptations, and Maurice White. He also toured extensively with Les McCann, Rodney Franklin, Jeff Lorber, Teena Marie, the Winans, Marlena Shaw, Debra and Eloise Laws, Quincy Jones, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, and many others. In 1992 Albright was one of the ten featured saxophonists who performed at President Clinton's inauguration.
A dedicated family man and active community member, Albright is married to his junior high school sweetheart, Glynis, and has two children, Selina and Brandon. Albright has participated in numerous fundraisers for the NAACP, the American Cancer Society, and the Institute for Black Parenting. As a member of the Alpha Phil Alpha fraternity, he regularly donates his talents to raise funds to promote academic excellence nationwide.
Saxophonist RICHARD ELLIOT was born in Scotland and grew up in Los Angeles, where he made a name for himself as a session player in the 1970s. He enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Motown Records backing soul heavyweights including Smokey Robinson and The Temptations.
After backing pop singer Melissa Manchester on tour, Elliot joined Tower of Power's horn section in 1982 and remained with that famous funk band until 1987. Elliot was still with Tower of Power when he signed with Manhattan Records and started recording instrumental solo albums. By the end of the 1980s, he was a major name in smooth jazz.
Elliot stayed with Manhattan/Blue Note until the late 1990s before moving to GRP with 2001's Crush; Ricochet, his second album for GRP, was released in 2003. In addition to his career as a musician, Elliot was the founder of PacificNet, an Internet multimedia company, and is also a pilot; he often flies himself to his performances.
Elliot celebrates his soul/funk heritage on his latest GRP release Ricochet. That isn't to say that Ricochet is devoid of jazz or pop elements-like his previous releases, this instrumental album is very much a part of the contemporary jazz idiom. Nor is Elliot saying that he forgot about his R&B heritage on any of his previous CDs; Elliot has usually favored the more R&B-influenced side of jazz. But if all of Elliot's albums underscore his soul/funk roots to some degree, Ricochet finds him being even more R&B-minded than usual. From tough, sweaty funk-jazz smokers like "Sly" (which was named after the legendary Sly Stone) and "Slam" to the dusky "Corner Pocket" and a sentimental remake of The Stylistics' "You Make Me Feel Brand New," Ricochet is the type of album that puts the soul in smooth jazz.
Philly-raised and Berklee-educated, keyboardist JEFF LORBER had no specific design in mind when he recorded his first album in 1976. In those days, artist experimentation was encouraged, and Lorber set no limits on his own freewheeling expressions. He drew from the eclectic mix of artists he admired, such as Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Tower of Power, Miles Davis, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. He combined those influences, simmered slowly, and somehow discovered a sound that has withstood the test of time.
Jeff Lorber Fusion became one of the most popular jazz acts of the early '80s, touring non-stop and scoring a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Instrumental for "Pacific Coast Highway." 1984's Step By Step was their most successful outing yet, but Lorber disbanded the group, moving on to produce R&B artists such as Karyn White, Dave Koz, Eric Marienthal, Eric Benet, Art Porter, Michael Franks, and Herb Alpert.
After re-emerging as a solo artist with 1993's Worth Waiting For, Lorber went on to release West Side Stories (1994), State of Grace (1996), and Midnight (1998). Kickin' It, Lorber's 2001 release, showcased his talents as a songwriter, and his latest release, Philly Style (Narada, 2003), takes his West Coast smooth-jazz style back to his Philadelphia roots.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of experiencing PAUL TAYLOR live knows about the unique synergy between the charismatic saxophonist and his devoted fans. His dynamic stage presence tells only part of the story of his emergence as one of smooth jazz's most exciting performers.
Taylor grew up in Denver, Colorado, and started playing saxophone at age seven. He discovered his true calling while playing in a local high school garage band that played Top 40, funk, and the soulful fusion of the time typified by groups such as the Crusaders. He received a scholarship to study music performance at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas, where he received his professional education as much in Vegas lounge gigs as he did in the classroom.
He commuted often to Los Angeles, where in the in 1980s he met smooth jazz keyboardist Keiko Matsui and her producer/husband Kazu, who liked Taylor's charismatic performance and offered him a spot in their band.
Taylor recorded and toured with the Matsuis for two years and in 1995 released his solo debut, On The Horn, which spawned the hit single "Till We Meet Again." Taylor quickly found his own niche in the smooth jazz world. He has since released four additional albums - Pleasure Seeker (1997), Undercover (2000), Hypnotic (2001), and Steppin' Out (Peak Records, 2003).