Next Exit

What happens when a musical originator finds his ideas proliferating like wild rabbits, spilling all over the current jazz charts? A 20-year veteran of pop- funk-jazz, saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. had a strong hand in writing the book of sax licks now dispersed by the likes of David Sanborn and Kenny G. Of course, Grover was doing it long before G was a household letter. Ironically, Washington’s latest album, Next Exit, loses much of its potential impact because of the crowded neighborhood it now occupies. On the whole, the album sounds all too familiar, all too comfortable to function as anything deeper than bubbly, urbane sonic wallpaper. Diversity is not entirely lacking: Strains of Latin and gospel, soul tunes with guest vocalists — Nancy Wilson on ”Your Love,” Levi Stubbs on ”Till You Return to Me” — mix with the cushy, middling funk ditties that are Grover’s stock-in-trade. The most striking detour, the synthesized redo of Paul Desmond’s ”Take Five” that opens the album, is more a curiosity than a revelation. The intended stylishness of . ”Get on Up” and ”Check Out Grover,” outfitted in hip-hop fashion, is undercut by Washington’s flat, outdated riffing. It sounds best when heard with half an ear. C+

Next Exit
  • Music