As the name suggests, "Groovin' for Grover" is a tour that pays homage to the legendary saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr.. Populated by Richard Elliot, Gerald Albright, Jeff Lorber and Paul Taylor, the concert highlighted one of contemporary jazz's most prolific artists. The entire concert was a fun-filled night of jazz activated energy. Each musician in his own way exhibited a varying array of individuality that complemented the other three participants in a very impactful way. The first half of the show was all about Elliot, Albright, Taylor and Lorber. Each of the four provided a repertoire of tunes from their recently released albums. As a follow-up, they also revisited a few crowd pleasers. Either way, by intermission the capacity crowd at The Verizon Wireless Theater were well on their way to a feeding frenzy of excitement, with each level of performance exhibited by what many believe are some of the finest musicians in jazz today. In addition, two of the participating sidemen consisting of drummer Rayford Griffin, native Houston guitarist Dwight Sills have also garnered considerable mention as exceptional solo performers and recording artists. Collectively, all combined made the evening a grand show of jazz excellence.
The second half of the show was all about the late Grover Washington, Jr. For more than 25 years Grover was the epitome of soul and contemporary jazz; in fact, his dynamic influence helped to breathe new life into a declining art form during the 1970s, '80s and '90s. His untimely departure a few years ago left a vacuum that has been difficult to overcome. What Paul Taylor, Richard Elliot, Gerald Albright and Jeff Lorber have tried to do on this tour is broaden the overall scope of Grover's immense popularity. In many ways, each member of the tour has been influenced by Grover in some shape, form, or fashion. Musically speaking, each one of the saxophonists have all studied Washington's unique style at one time or the other. In addition, during their careers they have all crossed paths professionally with the legendary artist. What was very apparent at the concert was how the crowd received the musical information presented to them. From minute one, each and every aspect of the concert was time well-spent. The performance put forth by this stellar array of all-stars was not only mesmerizing, the event was magical and heart felt.
As stated earlier, live jazz events are often iffy and best when it comes to their entertainment value; however, anyone within earshot of "Groovin' for Grover" would stand at attention and say that this was a concert for the ages. For a city like Houston where jazz is not always well-received, this sold-out event let every know that if the right event comes to the city, jazz aficionados and connoisseurs will come. Those responsible for bringing "Groovin' for Grover" to Houston, including The Wave 95.7, the city's smooth jazz station have much to be praised for. This was not only a fine testament to Grover Washington, Jr's rich legacy, the event also displayed jazz as a truly entertaining art form.