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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 isn't content to simply offer note-for-note covers. The most disappointing selection is a version of The Crusaders' "Street Life" that meanders and grooves aimlessly without ever taking off.
Many labels would be quite happy to have Sample recording the sappiest and most formulaic of "smooth jazz," but Sample This points to the fact that since singing with Warner Bros. in 1989, he's had more ups than downs creatively.
Reprinted with the permission of Myrna Daniels and L.A. Jazz Scene , the largest jazz publication in Southern California.