Freddie Washington, In the Moment
For his long-awaited, welldressed debut, the L.A. session legend and Steely Dan bassist reinvents the concept of “quiet storm” with a feel-flush instrumental turn that’s much needed in the stagnant smooth jazz realm. The midnight mood is set right from the title track opener as well as the follow-up cover of Barry Mann’s “When You Get Right Down to It”; both feature Freddie’s succinct melody readings and serpentine fills, which unfurl around spatially panned rhythm sections. Washington’s bronze thumb enters for “Easy Ride” and “Freddie’s Groove,” propelling his piccolo-range lead lines with feel-good open-space slaps.
On the ballad side, “I Can Make It Better,” “Let It Go,” and especially “Do You Remember”—with its oozing horns and “Babylon Sister”-like shuffle—afford a closer look at Washington’s approach: Waste-nonotes melodies complete with subtle vibrato and string bends, and groove-retaining short-phrase solos. For the disc-closing “Set It Off,” Freddie pulls out all the sonic stops: a relentless 16th-based ostinato, filtered and overdriven slap-plucked melody, and solo flights. Add in disc-wide appearances by guests like Patrice Rushen, Joe Sample, Ray Parker Jr., Wah-Wah Watson, and Ndugu Chancler—all of whom helped provide the breeze that created the original quiet storm movement—and this pocketperfect outing will make you wonder why we bothered to invent machines at all.