200

The Crusaders: Healing The Wounds

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Definitely, this is one of my favorite albums from the 1990s. I'm not even that big of a Crusaders fan (though I love Joe Sample's work). There is a tremendous groove element here along with some great melodies and, of course, some fine solos from Sample (especially) and saxophonist Wilton Felder. In fact, the album starts strong from the gate with the track Pessimisticism. There's a deep pocket here and Sample, as always skips along the top in his swinging eighths style with his solo, while Felder plays off of the groove during his solo. We should expect no less than an outstanding package overall- the album is produced by "Maestro" Marcus Miller.

As is central to Miller's efforts as producer, arrangements are strong, chord voicings are choice, and instrumentation is key. This is a full, fat mix. Likewise, there is strong personnel on this release. Miller plays bass on this outing (of course!) as well as providing some synth programming. He is aided with holding down the groove (as if it were necessary) by William "Bubba" Bryant on drums and Lenny Castro on percussion. We also get some great rhythm guitar work, which serves to outline and propel the grooves, by Michael Landau. Steve Lukather guests for a solo on the Stevie Wonder original Cause We've Ended As Lovers , and Jason Miles offers some support in the synth programming department.

There's a misleading sense of simplicity on the tracks. Take Mercy, Mercy, Mercy , the Joe Zawinul tune for example. This is a very straightforward tune. The groove is key. If the groove doesn't happen the tune doesn't work. They approach on this track is so subtle, yet if you listen closely you hear layers upon layers of rhythmic support- keys, guitar, and some dynamite percussion work. These elements make the track work. Moreso, these elements together make the track a stellar cover. Everyone's material should sound as good when covered by another artist!

This is definitely an album for studying from a production standpoint. It's solid all around. The third track Little Things Mean A lot is much like your standard Sample fair. It starts with a strong groove which emphasizes the melody and bridge and falls into a latin swing behind the solos. In fact, Sample provides a quite impressive, solid jazz solo on acoustic piano. The bridge layers both a synth melody and a soprano (and tenor doubled) counter melody in such a way that you don't really notice they’re separate.

Jeff Beck fans may not appreciate the turn on Wonder's Cause We've Endcd As Lovers , but it's every bit as strong as the original, even sweeter, more dramatic. The pocket is slammin' and the guitar work is to sink your teeth into. Shake Dance (a Marcus Miller tune) is a bit more programmed that other tracks and a bit more syncopated as well, but I also think it was one of the more popular tracks from this album for NAC radio. The Miller penned track Maputo follows (yes, this is the same tune done by Bob James and David Sanborn- Miller was involved with that album too) with a tidy little acoustic piano intro by Sample. In contrast with other versions it has acoustic piano support the melody and some interesting percussion work in the background. Healing the Wounds is a Sample tune and is a precious as they generally are. The delicate melody, played expressively by Felder, sits atop the backbeat before falling into a pseudo-samba bridge which also serves as the outro (with a synth-pennywhistle solo).

Last on the disc is one of my favorite tracks, Running Man. It has the futuristic feel of the Arnold S. movie and is probably the funkiest groove on the disc. It's probably my favorite because it features some tasty electric guitar and Sample's swinging acoustic piano work. Felder's no slouch on this track and it really cooks. I think they had fun recording this one. You don't always have that sense. There's also a little less production here- a little more group feel.

Absent from this release are compositions from Felder. His playing is plenty strong, though, and a saxophonist could learn much about how to groove from listening to Felder's work here. This is the kind of release that made GRP so successful in the 80's, and we haven't seen enough of in the 90's. I'll give this one at least 8.5 Jazbo's.

| Record Label: GRP Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Nomade Orquestra" CD/LP/Track Review Nomade Orquestra
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 5, 2016
Read "Kansas City Here I Come" CD/LP/Track Review Kansas City Here I Come
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "Altered Narratives" CD/LP/Track Review Altered Narratives
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 13, 2016
Read "Eastern Smiles" CD/LP/Track Review Eastern Smiles
by Ian Patterson
Published: August 21, 2016
Read "Tipico" CD/LP/Track Review Tipico
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 7, 2017
Read "The Way You Say It" CD/LP/Track Review The Way You Say It
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: April 10, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!