11 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

This 1999 collaboration between 60-year-old pianist Joe Sample and 30-year-old vocalist Lalah Hathaway didn’t just bridge the generations—it renovated the idea of classic jazz music at a time when it'd become almost totally segregated from the world of R&B. Ten of the 12 songs here are Sample originals. He'd been drawing on R&B music since the '60s, when he played in The Jazz Crusaders. In fact, “Street Life” was originally done as a funk song in 1979, sung by Randy Crawford. While Crawford was sassy and gritty, Hathaway is deliberate and nourishing. Nothing about her is rushed or trite. She's wholly authentic, and her R&B pedigree gives these gentle jazz arrangements a depth that they might not otherwise have. Put “When Your Life Was Low,” “For All We Know,” or “One Day I’ll Fly Away” next to any slow jam from the past 20 years and see which song has more feeling and atmosphere. “Fever” was more than four decades old by the time Hathaway and Sample recorded their interpretation, but it’s got more heat in it than any sexed-up song from the '90s.

EDITORS’ NOTES

This 1999 collaboration between 60-year-old pianist Joe Sample and 30-year-old vocalist Lalah Hathaway didn’t just bridge the generations—it renovated the idea of classic jazz music at a time when it'd become almost totally segregated from the world of R&B. Ten of the 12 songs here are Sample originals. He'd been drawing on R&B music since the '60s, when he played in The Jazz Crusaders. In fact, “Street Life” was originally done as a funk song in 1979, sung by Randy Crawford. While Crawford was sassy and gritty, Hathaway is deliberate and nourishing. Nothing about her is rushed or trite. She's wholly authentic, and her R&B pedigree gives these gentle jazz arrangements a depth that they might not otherwise have. Put “When Your Life Was Low,” “For All We Know,” or “One Day I’ll Fly Away” next to any slow jam from the past 20 years and see which song has more feeling and atmosphere. “Fever” was more than four decades old by the time Hathaway and Sample recorded their interpretation, but it’s got more heat in it than any sexed-up song from the '90s.

TITLE TIME
5:09
5:40
5:12
4:45
5:49
5:43
5:40
4:29
5:13
3:58
4:57

About Joe Sample

One of the many jazzmen who started out playing hard bop but went electric during the fusion era, Joe Sample was, in the late '50s, a founding member of the Jazz Crusaders along with trombonist Wayne Henderson, tenor saxman Wilton Felder, and drummer Stix Hooper. The Crusaders' debt to Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers wasn't hard to miss -- except that the L.A.-based unit had no trumpeter, and became known for its unique tenor/trombone front line. Sample, a hard-swinging player who could handle chordal and modal/scalar improvisation equally well, stuck to the acoustic piano during the Crusaders' early years -- but would place greater emphasis on electric keyboards when the band turned to jazz-funk in the early '70s and dropped "Jazz" from its name. Though he'd recorded as a trio pianist on 1969's obscure Fancy Dance, 1978's Rainbow Seeker was often described as his first album as a leader. In contrast to the gritty music the Crusaders became known for, Sample's own albums on MCA and, later, Warner Bros. and PRA generally favored a very lyrical and introspective jazz-pop approach. Sample died of mesothelioma in September 2014 in Houston, Texas at the age of 75. In 2015, Sample's holiday-themed collaboration with vocalist India.Arie, Christmas with Friends, was posthumously released. ~ Alex Henderson

  • ORIGIN
    Houston, TX
  • GENRE
    Jazz
  • BORN
    1 Feb 1939

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