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George Howard


Along with Kenny G, George Howard helped make the soprano sax one of smooth jazz's signature instruments. After being discovered by Grover Washington, Jr., Howard quickly became a major force in the contemporary jazz and R&B worlds of the 1980s and '90s. His early releases for GRP suffered from pseudo electro-funk and synth pop backings that swamped his solos, but by the end of the Bill Clinton years, his albums matched his more organic, if somewhat anemic, playing style. Howard died of cancer at the age of 41, in the same year (1998) that he recorded "Africa" from Midnight Mood, one of his most heartfelt and affecting tracks.
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