Picks and Pans Review: Inside Moves

updated 10/29/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/29/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

Grover Washington Jr.

Saxophonist Washington is such a consummate musician that when he plays before the tip-off of 76ers basketball games at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, as he sometimes does, he is able to transform the national anthem into national velvet. Like Stanley Turrentine's offerings, Grover's jazz is accessible to listeners of all musical tastes. Turn him loose on choice material, as on Inside Moves, and his fluid and graceful style is incomparable. The sidemen on this LP are no slouches, either; Washington is backed by an all-star posse that includes Richard Tee on electric piano, Eric Gale on guitar and Ralph MacDonald, who co-produced the album with Grover, playing percussion. The ensemble is content to stay in tight formation, while Grover huffs and puffs and blows the house down. Dawn Song moves from soft and dreamy to sharp and funky. The title cut undergoes a similar change, with Washington blending alto, tenor and baritone saxes over the sweet opening and then pulling out all the stops on top of a bass-percussive riff that is reminiscent of the pioneer fusion ensemble Weather Report. Jon Lucien's powerful vocals give the cuts on which he is featured, such as Watching You Watching Me, the flavor of George Benson recordings. Sassy Stew, with its string arrangement and piquantly foreboding sax strains, recalls Black Frost from Grover's Mister Magic album. That 1975 recording, note for note, was very nearly perfect. With Inside Moves Washington has come mighty close to duplicating that feat. (Elektra)

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