Joe Sample

Joseph Leslie “Joe”) Sample was an American keyboard player, pianist and composer. He lived from February 1, 1939 to September 12, 2014. He was one the founding members the Jazz Crusaders. The band became The Crusaders in 1971. He remained with the group until the final album in 1991. He enjoyed a successful solo career that began in the 1980s and he has been a guest on numerous recordings by other artists and groups such as Miles Davis and George Benson. B. B. Sample’s music incorporated gospel, blues and Latin influences. Sample started playing the piano at five years of age. Sample was an organist and pianist Curtis Mayo’s student. Sample formed a group called The Swingsters with Wilton Felder, saxophonist, and “Stix” Hooper as friends in high school during the 1950s. Sample met Wayne Henderson, trombonist, while studying piano at Texas Southern University. He also joined the Swingsters as a member of the Modern Jazz Sextet. The Jazz Crusaders was formed in imitation of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Sample did not receive a degree from the university. Instead, Sample and the Jazz Crusaders moved from Houston to Los Angeles in 1960. They quickly discovered opportunities on the West Coast and made Freedom Sounds, their first recording in 1961, and released up to four albums per year for most of the 1960s. Although they played in the traditional hard bop style at the time, the Jazz Crusaders were distinguished by their unique front-line of Henderson’s trombone and Wilton Felder’s saxophone. Sample’s funky and rhythmically pleasing acoustic piano playing was another distinctive characteristic. Sample helped to shape the group’s sound into a mix of jazz and soul in late 1960s. During those years, the Jazz Crusaders were a popular concert attraction. Sample continued working with his band mates, but he also pursued solo work. Sample recorded Fancy Dance in 1969, his first recording as an individual. Sample was a studio musician living in Los Angeles, where he appeared on recordings by Marvin Gaye and Tina Turner. B. B. He recorded a state-of the-art direct-to-disc recording in 1975 with Ray Brown, a jazz legend on bass, along with Shelly Manne, a drummer. Blue Note released some early Jazz Crusaders work as “The Young Rabbits” around this time. This compilation included their recordings from 1962 to 1968. Sample was one of the pioneers of the electric keyboard in the 1960s. While the group was still called Sample, he began using the electric piano. The group reached a commercial peak with “Street Life”, their hit single. In 1979, they also released the album of the exact same name. He recorded Swing Street Cafe in 1978 with David T. Walker, guitarist. After recording Life in the Modern World, the Crusaders lost several key members and broke up in 1987 for the GRP label. The Crusaders were disbanded, but the members continued to record together over the years. Healing the Wounds was released in the early 1990s. Felder, Hooper and Sample recorded Rural Renewal in 2003 as the reunited Crusaders band. They also played a concert at Japan in 2004. Sample has released several solo albums since Sample’s Fancy Dance (1969). GRP also released Joe Sample Collection and a three-disc Crusaders Collection to honor Sample’s legacy. The Song Lives On (1999), which features duets with Lalah Hathaway and The Pecan Tree (2002), are two of Sample’s most recent recordings. This is Sample’s tribute to Houston, where he moved in 1994. Soul Shadows was his 2004 album on Verve. It paid tribute to Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington, as well as pre-jazz leader James Reese Europe. He recorded Feeling Good in 2007 with Randy Crawford. MCA issued Joe Sample’s The Hunter album in 1983. Six recordings were made during the Hunter sessions, which took place at Salty Dog Studios and Hollywood Sound Recorders in Los Angeles. Many fans believe that there may be more recordings from these sessions. Night Flight, a nearly 9-minute long work, was one of the six tracks. Robbie Vincent, UK Jazz Funk and Soul DJ, premiered Night Flight in full on his Radio London “Saturday Show”, in 1983. This prompted a surge in jazz fusion fans and Sample lovers to purchase all of the imported copies from London Stores. (The same happened for Earl Klugh’s Low Ride album at the same time). The Sample album, The Hunter, was recorded by a variety of top musicians of the time, including Marcus Miller, who was also on Lonnie Smith’s Dreams of Tomorrow, and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Paulinho Da Costa, on persussion, joined the group. The album featured Sample with the amazing Phil Upchurch (lead guitar), Dean Parks (also guitar), Steve Gadd, Bob Wilson, drums, John Phillips and Abraham Laboriel, as well as John Phillips and John Phillips on bass clarinet and bass respectively. Joe Sample enlisted Wilton Felder, his Crusaders stablemate, to help him with production. Sample’s solo push was at an important point when the Hunter album was released. Night Flight was the greatest achievement of these sessions. However, fans were disappointed to see an edited version on the Joe Sample Collection compilation. Although the Hunter album has been transferred to CD using original tapes, fans still await a remastered expanded edition containing previously unreleased material as well as demos. Joe Sample performed solo keyboard on George Benson’s Deeper than You Think at The Waterfront Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 28 May 2000. The concert was recorded, and George Benson: Absolutely live was released. A studio version, Deeper Than you Think, was recorded with Joe Sample in New York during sessions for a Benson compilation. It received the title Absolutely Benson. Fans believe that there were other collaborations between Sample and Benson, which are still unreleased. His works were featured on The Weather Channel’s segment “Local On the 8s”, and his song “Rainbow Seeker”, is part of their 2008 compilation, The Weather Channel Presents Smooth Jazz II. Nicole Kidman performed his song “One Day, I’ll Fly Away” from the Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge. The extremely popular song “In All My Wildest Dreams” also from 1978’s album “Rainbow Seeker” was featured on Tupac’s track “Dear Mama”, De la Souls’s “WRMS Dedication to the Bitty”, and Arrested Developments’ “Africa’s Within Me”. Sample had a son, Nicklas, who was with his ex-wife Marianne. He is part of the Coryell Auger Sample Trio which includes Julian Coryell (Karma Auger) and Nicklas. Sample, who was 75, died from complications of lung cancer in Houston, Texas on September 12, 2014. From Wikipedia

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