Former member of The Crusaders JOE SAMPLE is a jazz pianist and composer who has worked with Miles Davis, George Benson, Jimmy Witherspoon, B. B. King, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan, and The Supremes. Sample incorporates jazz, gospel, blues, Latin, and classical forms into his music.
During his time at Texas Southern University, Sample formed the Jazz Crusaders – a progressive jazz band. The Crusaders saw that opportunity lay in the west coast and moved to Los Angeles. The group quickly found opportunities on the West Coast, making its first recording, Freedom Sounds in 1961 and releasing up to four albums a year over much of the 1960s.
In 1969 Sample made his first recording under his own name; Fancy Dance featured the pianist as part of a jazz trio. In the 1970s, as the Jazz Crusaders became simply the Crusaders and branched out into popular sounds, Sample became a studio musician – appearing on recordings by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, B. B. King, Joe Cocker, Minnie Riperton and Anita Baker.
The electric keyboard was fairly new at the time, and Sample became one of the instrument’s pioneers. He switched to electric keyboard for his recordings with the Crusaders themselves, and the group hit a commercial high-water mark with the hit single “Street Life” and the album of the same name in 1979.
The Crusaders, after losing several key members, broke up after recording Life in the Modern World for the GRP label in 1987. The members would join each other to record periodically over the years.
GRP also released Joe Sample Collection and a three disc Crusaders Collection as testament to Sample’s enduring legacy. His 2004 album on Verve, Soul Shadows, paid tribute to Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, and pre-jazz bandleader James Reese Europe. In 2008 he released Feeling Good with vocalist Randy Crawford.
mainstream influences and always a pleasure to groove to.” – Richard S. Ginell