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Memorials, Pianists, Vocalists

Sunday 9/21/14 Show: Joe Sample Memorial


Photo: Joe Sample | Flickr user Tom.Beetz via Wikicommons

The next show will air on Sunday, September 21, 2014 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This installment of “Suga’ In My Bowl” will feature a rebroadcast of a 2013 show with pianist Joe Sample, known to many from his work with The Jazz Crusaders (later The Crusaders), who died on September 12, 2014. You can hear a short preview below.

One of the many jazzmen who started out playing hard bop but went electric during the fusion era, Joe Sample was, in the late ’50s, a founding member of the Jazz Crusaders along with trombonist Wayne Henderson, tenor saxman Wilton Felder, and drummer Stix Hooper. The Crusaders’ debt to Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers wasn’t hard to miss — except that the L.A.-based unit had no trumpeter, and became known for its unique tenor/trombone front line. Sample, a hard-swinging player who could handle chordal and modal/scalar improvisation equally well, stuck to the acoustic piano during The Crusaders’ early years — but would place greater emphasis on electric keyboards when the band turned to jazz-funk in the early ’70s and dropped “Jazz” from its name. Though he’d recorded as a trio pianist on 1969’s Fancy Dance, 1978’s Rainbow Seeker was often described as his first album as a leader. In contrast to the gritty music The Crusaders became known for, Sample’s own albums on MCA and, later, Warner Bros. and PRA have generally favored a very lyrical and introspective jazz-pop approach.

Unsurprisingly, there are several Sample obituaries. For starters, we recommend the ones by Peter Keepnews in the New York Times, Steve Chawkins in the Los Angeles Times (who notes The Crusaders’ and Sample’s appeal with the activist community), and Andrew Dansby in The Houston Chronicle (who notes his return to Creole music at the end of his life).

Show engineered, produced, hosted, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Web Extras:

Watch Sample and Randy Crawford perform their classic “Street Life” live in Japan in 2008.

Watch Sample perform “Chain Reaction” live with the Crusaders in Germany, 1987.



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