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Royal Jam (Live (1981 - The Royal Festival Hall, London))

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Album Review

Around this time in their heyday, the Crusaders were experimenting with orchestral/jazz fusions in concert — and MCA thought enough of them to capture the music in London's Royal Festival Hall one fine summer. Crusader pianist/sparkplug Joe Sample evidently arranged and orchestrated all of the Royal Philharmonic's parts himself, not necessarily with the expertise of a full-time practitioner of the craft. Too often, the orchestrations are piled on with a shovel; the orchestral "Overture" is a particularly mawkish piece of work. But the Crusaders still had their signature rhythm section pumping away, with drummer Stix Hooper in a particularly propulsive mood all night — and they carry the excess weight easily along in the funky groove. Things come to a peak when fellow MCA signee B.B. King slips on to the stage, first in a stomping "The Thrill Is Gone" and then in one of the most infectious tracks he or the Crusaders ever cut, "Better Not Look Down." It's a master class in economy, every guitar note landing squarely in Stix's pocket, Sample matching every brief lick with a funky comment on the electric piano, the King's command over the British audience complete. King also tries out the big Crusaders vocal hit "Street Life," but this time, guest singer Josie James has him beat — and there are some evidently unplanned numbers for King and the Crusaders as encores. Elsewhere, guitarist David T. Walker is on-hand to provide economic, to-the-point commentary in his own style; James is also featured in an exuberant "Burnin' Up the Carnival." Apart from his reliable comping on electric piano. Sample also provides some elaborate elegance on solo acoustic piano on "Fly With Wings of Love," while tenor player Wilton Felder acts as the genial emcee. The original double-LP issue took in the second half of the programs in London — about an hour of music, easily transferable to one CD — and it's one of the band's most enjoyable albums of that period. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Nice to have ...

This is what happens when Classical meets Blues ... Stellar performance

Biography

Formed: 1960 in Houston, TX

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Back in 1954, Houston pianist Joe Sample teamed up with high school friends tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder and drummer Stix Hooper to form the Swingsters. Within a short time, they were joined by trombonist Wayne Henderson, flutist Hubert Laws, and bassist Henry Wilson and the group became the Modern Jazz Sextet. With the move of Sample, Felder, Hooper, and Henderson to Los Angeles in 1960, the band (a quintet with the bass spot constantly changing) took on the name of the Jazz Crusaders. The following...
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Royal Jam (Live (1981 - The Royal Festival Hall, London)), The Crusaders
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