Saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. was a crossover artist who did have hits in the pop and R&B charts, due to his willingness to play over light funk arrangements and use vocalists. He can be credited with virtually inventing the style of smooth jazz that later became so prevalent, and in that way he has been highly influential.
Grover Washington, Jr.'s love of music began a a child growing up in Buffalo, New York; his mother (who sang in church choirs) and father (collector of jazz 78s) bought him a saxophone at age ten. After I started playing, Grover says, “I'd sneak into clubs to watch guys like Jack McDuff, Harold Vick and Charles Lloyd. My professional life began at age twelve. I played a lot of R&B, blues, and what we used to call 'gut-bucket'.
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