The October 23rd, 1975 issue of Jet Magazine was the last to list Grover Washington, Jr “Mister Magic” as #1 in their Soul Brother Jazz chart. The album had been #1 in their jazz chart for a remarkable 3-months. It first entered their chart in the August 15th issue, and on October 30th was replaced by the Crusaders “Chain Reaction” album, with Herbie Hancock, Lonnie Liston Smith, Quincy Jones, and Ramsey Lewis rounding out the top-5.
Think about that, at the time Grover Washington, Jr. was just 31-years old and had held some of the biggest names in jazz, at the time, off the #1 spot.
The album was one of the biggest selling albums for CTI/Kudu, It reached #10 in Pop Albums, and #1 Top Soul and Top Jazz albums in Billboard.
Released initially in February 1975, the album attracted the usual scorn from reviewers for a Creed Taylor album of the time, in a typically terse dismissal, critic Robert Christgau wrote for The Village Voice:
“Washington plays a warm tenor in the pop jazz tradition of Gene Ammons, but the rhythm section percolates danceably, and the result is sexy background music only superficially marred by Bob James‘s strings.”June 16th, 1975 issue of The Village Voice – Robert Christgau
UK Jazz (Fusion) Dance
Of course, they wouldn’t be called critics if they were not critical! Christgau missed though the nerve and vibe of up-tempo jazz becoming disco. In the UK, many of the CTI/KUDU albums were becoming cult, underground dance music hits. It was around this time that I was first introduced to CTI/KUDU, in the London clubs Bob James “Night On Bald Mountain” from the album “One”, Hubert Laws “Chicago Theme” from the album of the same name, and Washinton’s own “Inner City Blues” were part of what would later become called UK jazz dance, now known as “Old School Jazz Dance”.
Many of the CT/Kudu tracks produced by Taylor, and arranged by Sebesky, James, and Matthews would continue to be dance favorites in the UK for the next decade, many crossed over to pop chart success and still represent the best of the 1970’s today. This is certainly true for track like Idris Muhammad’s “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This” and “Mister Magic” being the prime examples.
Jet Magazine back issues are a great source of information on black music artists, and especially the culture of the 1950’s through the 1970’s. They were printed in a more comic book sized format than traditional magazines. They were also written in a more tabloid style, with more popular content.
The magazine still publishes online today as a subsidiary of Ebony Magazine Operations. While you can still purchase early collections of the magazines in pdf format, the DVD that I bought with the 1970-1979 issues seems to have vanished, perhaps for copyright reasons?
Grover Washington, Jr. discography [via discogs artist listing]
Mister Magic album [via discogs master listing]
Jet Magazine issues [via google books]
Jet Magazine webite [via jetmag.com]
UK Jazz Fusion [via thebottomend.co.uk]