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Live In Japan 2003

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Album Review

This early 21st century version of the Crusaders features founding members Joe Sample (Rhodes and Wurlitzer) and Wilton Felder (saxophone), with new recruits in guitarist Ray Parker, Jr., trombonist Steve Baxter, drummerKendrick Scott, and bassist Freddy Washington, Jr. Previously released only in Japan, this live date was in support of the shockingly good Rural Renewal album from 2003, which included this band with original drummer Stix Hooper and a slew of guests including Eric Clapton. This gig contains two cuts from that album: the stellar "Shotgun House Groove" with great guitar work by Parker and a fine, funky, in the pocket groover called "Creepin'." The rest is from the Crusaders catalog and includes tracks from Southern Comfort, Free as the Wind, and Street Life. While this in no way captures the same magic as the original quartet — trombonist Wayne Henderson and Hooper were too integral to its sound to be replaced by anyone — this music is beautifully played and felt. Excellent examples include Felder's classic (it's almost the Crusaders' theme) "Way Back Home," with its lilting horn and piano groove, excellent Rhodes by Sample, and a stunning solo by Felder. This cut is pure soul feel; these cats dig deep into the vamp at its core making it express more each time through. Another notable is the über funky "Put It Where You Want It" to close the set. Parker's guitar playing is far to the nasty left of Larry Carlton's (on the original studio version from the Crusaders 1). The bottom line is, if you simply accept this for what it is, a tough, feel good soul-jazz record, it is a truly fine listen without a dud tune in the bunch. Believe it: there is plenty here to get your groove on to.


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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