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If songs like "Scratch" come to mind when you think of the Jazz Crusaders, you are in for a real treat with this six-CD set. Originally including "jazz" in their moniker, Wayne Henderson (trombone), Wilton Felder (tenor), Joe Sample (piano) and Stix Hooper (drums) put together a collection of studio recordings that offers a pleasant surprise for mainstream jazz fans. This rocking set reveals the origins and many directions this multifaceted band took during the musically tumultuous '60s.
Listening to the first few CDs from the band circa '61, you could easily think that this was Stanley Turrentine sitting in with the Jazz Messengers. With a bit more groove and backbeat than Blakey's band, the Jazz Crusaders created jazz anthems like "Freedom Sound" that epitomize everything important about jazz: a social message that reaches your heart, body and soul. The front line of tenor and 'bone never sounded better.
By the late '60s, the Jazz Crusaders were covering current pop hits. The band took songs like "Promises, Promises" and "Love is Blue" and fried them until they oozed with flavor. All that is missing is a singer like Aretha Franklin, Joe Tex or Wilson Pickett, and these tracks would have been staples on the airwaves.
Showing that they were listening to all music of the era, the band winds down the collection with a bold-as-love, avant-garde eleven-minute excursion called "Space Movement." Felder's aggressive, angular playing over the modal theme will raise eyebrows for a number of Coltrane fans and stir up "what if" arguments for hours. If you want to know what happened to the "jazz" in the Jazz Crusaders, check out this immensely enjoyable set.
Track Listing: CD1: The Geek; M.J.S Funk; That's It; Freedom Sound; Theme From Exodus; Coon; M.J.S.
Funk (alternate version); Coon (alternate version); Song Of India; Big Hunk Of Funk;
Tonight; 507 Neyland; Till All Ends; Tortoise & The Hare; In A Dream; The Young Rabbits.
CD2: Sinnin' Sam; Weather Beat; Scandalizing; White Cobra; Cathy's Delight; Congolese
Sermon; One Leg Dance; Deacon Brown; Turkish Black; Brahms Lullaby; Boopie; Tough
Talk; No Name Samba; Lazy Canary; Lonely Horn; Brother Bernard; Moon River. CD3: On
Broadway; Greenback Dollar; Close Shave; Free Sample; Mr. Sandman; Heat Wave; Sassy;
Theme From "The L-Shaped Room" (T-Shaped Twist); Some Samba; Stix March; Purple
Onion; Long John; Robbins' Nest; You Are Sometimes Only Rain; Out Back; Bachafillen; I'll
Remember Tomorrow; Polka Dots And Moonbeams; Sweetwater. CD4: The Thing; Sunset
In The Mountains; While The City Sleeps; White Cobra; New Time Shuffle; Para Mi Espoza;
Soul Kosher; Tribute To Charles; A Trane Thing; New Time Shuffle (alternate version); The
Thing (alternate version); Uptight (Everything's Alright); The Shadow Do; Scratch; Isa's
Chant. CD5: Blue Monday; Night Theme; Uh Huh; Air Waves; Ice Water; Watts Happening;
Promises, Promises; Love And Peace; Hey Jude; Sting Ray; Fancy Dance. CD6: Love Is Blue;
Cookie Man; Upstairs; Firewater; Give Peace A Chance; I Think It Was A Dream; Black Bird;
The Thrill Is Gone; Anita's New Dance; Space Settlement; All The Lonely Years; Another
Personnel: Wayne Henderson: trombone; Wilton Felder: tenor saxophone; Joe Sample: piano; Jimmy
Bond, Bobby Haynes, Monk Montgomery, Victor Gaskin, Leroy Vinnegar, Buster Williams:
bass; Stix Hooper: drums; Roy Gaines, Joe Pass, Arthur Adams: guitar.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.