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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Randy Crawford and Joe Sample: Live

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It's a slight exaggeration to say that keyboardist Joe Sample rescued Randy Crawford from pop music limbo, but it's not too far from the truth. Crawford is among the most distinct vocalists working, but her discography is riddled with over-arranged and over-produced disappointments. One of her finest moments remains when The Crusaders dropped all 11 minutes of “Street Life" on radio airwaves in 1979, featuring Crawford belting it out.Some 27 years would pass Sample and Crawford before they reunited to record Feelin' Good (PRA, 2006), where the pianist wisely chucked the synthesizers, strings and overproduced pop tunes that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Randy Crawford and Joe Sample: Feeling Good

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The dilemma for an artist of vocalist Randy Crawford's caliber is that, when you do a lot of things well; it's hard to say what it is you do best. Crawford has been making music since 1976 and, in that time, she's made some good albums, a lot of mediocre ones and a few awful ones.Even her best-known song is only as a guest vocalist on The Crusaders' “Street Life," their last moment of greatness almost thirty years ago. There has never been an essential Randy Crawford album, but Feeling Good may well be her finest musical moment.

INTERVIEWS

Joe Sample: Feeling Good

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Jazz visionary and founding member of the Jazz Crusaders, pianist Joe Sample has reunited once again with Randy Crawford on Feeling Good (PRA, 2007). The results are magical. They first worked together on the title track to the Crusaders' Street Life, (MCA, 1979), which became an international hit, and “Feeling Good is sure to follow along the same path to success. It is a true testament to the incredible musicianship of all the artists included on this project, which includes Christian McBride, Steve Gadd, Dean Parks, Anthony Wilson, Luis Quintero and Ray Parker Jr.

Katrina-Kasey Wheeler caught up with Sample ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nils Landgren & Joe Sample: Creole Love Call

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From the first bars of “Get Out of My Life, Woman, which feature Joe Sample banging out a funky left hand rift, to Nils Landgren's laid-back vocals on “Soul Shadows, one thing is obvious about their new recording: Creole Love Call is all about New Orleans. Landgren and Sample got together to make this record and celebrate the city in May of 2005, a few short months before Hurricane Katrina. It's a testament to the fact that New Orleans is a spiritual home to musicians and music lovers alike, whether or not they've ever been to the Crescent City.

For ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nils Landgren & Joe Sample: Creole Love Call

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Nils Landgren is an odd one. On the one hand he creates good for the soul, inventive chamber jazz; on the other he turns out touristic blandofunk. Creole Love Call, recorded in New Orleans and including some of the city's musical luminaries, though too far upstage and away from the action, lies about halfway between these two extremes. It's not as good as Landgren's work with Esbjorn Svensson or Tomasz Stanko, nor as unfortunate as last year's Funky Abba, a gelatinous insult both to funk and the tunetastic Stockholm songsters.

Joe Sample, Landgren's collaborator on this latest project, is another ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Sample: The Pecan Tree

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Wow! I don't think there is a better description for this new recording from Joe Sample. I truly believe that this is the best jazz CD that I have heard in the past year.

If you're a new listener to jazz, Sample is an accomplished composer, keyboardist and co-founder of the Crusaders. The Pecan Tree is his newest and quite possibly finest recording. For the Pecan Tree, Sample has ventured back to his roots, down to the city of his youth -- Houston, Texas. It was in Houston that Sample first began playing piano -- at age five.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Sample featuring Lalah Hathaway: The Song Lives On

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Joe Sample's latest release, The Song Lives On , is appropriately titled. One of the CD's finest attributes is the excellent song selection. The Peggy Lee classic "Fever" is tastefully covered here, and Sample's own "Street Life" is reprised again, but the remainder of the program is new, at least to my ears. Most of the tunes establish an emotional connection with the listener; they're beautiful, pensive, soulful, and often introspective. Titles such as "Living in Blue," "When Your Life Was Low," "When the World Turns Blue," and "Bitter Sweet" convey this theme. Vocalist Lalah Hathaway delivers heartfelt, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Sample featuring Lalah Hathaway: The Song Lives On

Joe Sample’s latest release, The Song Lives On , is appropriately titled. One of the CD’s finest attributes is the excellent song selection. The Peggy Lee classic "Fever" is tastefully covered here, and Sample’s own "Street Life" is reprised again, but the remainder of the program is new, at least to my ears. Most of the tunes establish an emotional connection with the listener; they’re beautiful, pensive, soulful, and often introspective. Titles such as "Living in Blue," "When Your Life Was Low," When the World Turns Blue," and "Bitter Sweet" convey this theme. Vocalist Lalah Hathaway delivers heartfelt, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Sample: Sample This

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Though he's often fared well in the so-called “smooth jazz" and “quiet storm" markets, Joe Sample has, for the most part, maintained his integrity. Much of his work has been commercial yet creative, and on Sample This, the pianist/keyboardist revisits some of the high points of his career with generally substantial and enjoyable results. When Sample digs into both classics from his years with The Crusaders (including “Chain Reaction" and “Free As The Wind") and songs he's done on his own ( “Carmel," “Rainbow Seeker" and “In All My Wildest Dreams," to name a few), we hear an artist who ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Sample: Rainbow Seeker

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If you don't know what “pocket" is, listen to most any Joe Sample release, but especially Rainbow Seeker (1978, MCA). You'd think the term was invented for this collection of groove jazz. Of course when released, I'm sure it wasn't considered ground-breaking, but it is an incredible example of how compositions and solos can be built around the pocket. Unfortunately, my copy of the disc doesn't tell me who's playing on the tracks, so I gleaned the album personnel info from an online source:

Garnett Brown (trombone), Bobby Bryant (trumpet), Paulinho DaCosta (percussion), Jay DaVersa (trumpet), Barry Finerty ...



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