During the drive home from work on this St. Valentine’s Day, I jammed out to the tunes of Watercolors on SiriusXM Channel 66. One of the tracks that played as I navigated through traffic was “Love Like This” by the late Grover Washington, Jr. alongside a feature of Lalah Hathaway. One of my all-time favorites in the smooth jazz genre, it’s one of those “stop everything you’re doing and listen” tracks as far as I’m concerned. I literally pulled over and listened to the whole track without interruption. That brings me to this week’s Black History subject in the Flashback Friday series: Grover Washington, Jr.
How I first came across this subject? As far as I can recall, I came across Grover back on the road trip to Jackson, Mississippi in my father’s BellSouth truck…the same trip I was introduced to Joe Sample. In fact, I’d go as far as to say I was seriously introduced to the genre of smooth jazz that day.
What it meant to me then? I was all of 7 years old at the time. Listening to Grover Washington, Jr. specifically didn’t mean much to me. Just more music that my father listened to.
What it means to me now? When I think of Grover now, all that comes to me is regret. Though I did like his style and thought he did a damn good job on the saxophone, I didn’t appreciate him the way I probably should have. Then December 18, 1999 happened…me finding out he died while watching The Early Show on CBS. At just 15, a part of me felt like I should have known everything about the man and I spent much of the next few years doing that. At least 2 tracks from every album he ever recorded are in my Windows Media Player, including the entirety of the posthumously-released Aria. When I listen to “Just the Two of Us” with Bill Withers or the aforementioned “Love Like This” or the entire Soulful Strut album, I’m saddened because I never got the chance to see him live. One of these days, before I leave the Mid-Atlantic, I’ll go check out his mural in Philadelphia and pay my proper respects.