Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jamming, I jamming, jamming in the name of the lord

8 Grover Washington Jnr. ‘Jamming’

I may have heard a lot of Jazz growing up but none of it was mine and of my time. When I worked at Marbecks Records during my University holidays, during the late 70's/early 80's, I had access to the finest collection of records and sounds in New Zealand.

I probably need to declare a bias at some stage in these 49 posts – I love the Marbecks family (Roger, Hayden, Murray and the rest of the whanau). That bias aside – at this time, the Marbeck Record shops did have the best stock in New Zealand, and, I may add, the most knowledgeable shop assistants. I worked in the popular side with Roger and Vanessa. Serena, Murray and Hayden were in the classical shop. It was good times and, as I’ve often said, I was in heaven!

Friday nights were my favourite because it allowed us a bit of freedom, time wise, to try out stuff that wasn’t necessarily commercial. Obviously Roger wanted to sell albums so I forgave him the endless plays of the Cure’s Three Imaginary Boys song where the tap drips drips drips…and Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I must have heard the first bits of side 1 (no CD’s on the scene yet) a billion trillion times. Friday nights though - we’d often dig out some cruisey jazz albums. I liked Bob James (another nerdy looking bespectacled white keyboardist), Chuck Mangione, Earl Klugh and Grover Washington Jnr. Especially Grover. I love the sax sound and the image of the cool saxophonist – nailed by Jim Henson’s Zoot in The Muppets Show. Winelight and Come Morning make great relaxing listening on a sunny morning with the day ahead of you.

I have Grover to thank for introducing me to Bob Marley via his version of Jamming. It is a brilliant, lopping version with the distinctive sax playing all around the tune, mostly taking the vocal lines but not exclusively. It is better, for me, than Marley’s original and the live Babylon By Bus version. This is not usually the norm for me. I much prefer to get the original and very rarely does a remake better the original. I know of no Beatle covers, for instance, that better the original and I own about a dozen compilations of covers. Why do I collect them? I have no idea beyond the completist impulse that I’ll explain in the next post.

It was a short lived infatuation with Grover and what is called, I guess, modern jazz. I’ve not bought any other albums since that inspired period of exploration in the early 1980s. But I still dig them out from time to time and they still have a magic to them. And I still love the Marbecks.

[No film of Grover Jamming that I could find].

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