Sunday, September 14, 2014

Spotlight on Joe Sample

Spotlight on Joe Sample

I was fully prepared to write a review on Blue Eyed soul. Ok, not fully prepared. I hadn't decided whether to write about Paolo Nutini, or Jamie Lidell, but either way, I was ready to get it done. Ready to publish by Monday. But then this morning, Heather told me.. 'Joe Sample Died'

Wait, what? Say that again

If you know who Joe Sample is, you know what a tremendous loss this is to the jazz world, and to music as a whole. If you don't you've missed out on the talent's of one of our time's greatest musicians. Greatest composers. Greatest performers. Joe Sample was simply great. As a founding member of the Jazz crusaders, later shortened to simply the "Crusaders" Sample pioneered the Jazz R&B Fusion of the '70's and 80's. Nicole Kidman sang his song "One Day I'll Fly Away" in the Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge. The very popular "In All My Wildest Dreams", also from the 1978 album "Rainbow Seeker", was sampled on Tupac's "Dear Mama", De la Soul's "WRMS's Dedication to the Bitty" and Arrested Development's "Africa's Inside Me".

Joe's music also had a huge impact on me personally. There were four jazz musicians that really got me interested in jazz. That four that I liked just because I liked them. Two saxophone players (David Sanborn & Najee) One female jazz singer (Diane Scuur) and one Pianist. Mister Joe Sample. His song 'Looking Glass' was playing when my sister walked down the aisle. The ceremony was interrupted by a neighbor who's son would become my best friend Ben... But I digress, either way, Joe was there.

There are three or four songs.. Three or four, that the first time I heard them I was in love.
Oh Atlanta by AKUS Nothing I Can Do by Ben Taylor Who Is He (And What Is He To You) By  Bill Withers

Put It Where You Want It
Live at Montreaux 1997

Joe Sample - Piano
Marcus Miller - Bass
Eric Clapton - Guitar
Steve Gadd - Drums
David Sanborn - Saxophone

Now let me be clear. You don't have to like this. BUT if you're reading this, and you call yourself my friend you will. Or you won't tell me if you don't. I happen to think, regardless of the naughty title "Put It Where U Want It" is one of the baddest songs ever. And it's common knowledge that Steve Gadd the dude who rocked the drums on that track was born and bred in in the Roc. But did you know he now lives in Scottsdale, AZ?

Joe Sample, however was not only a fantasic lead man, he was also a top notch session pianist. He played piano on one of my all time favorite songs. When I was in Jr. High, and High school, I didn't get many dates (Crazy, right?) so I spent a lot of time listening to my mom and my grandmother's old records. By the time I was in 10th or 11th grade, I had a pretty sweet collection going, and me and my gang of misfits got to know some great music. We may not have had dates, but me and my buddies were the only guys rocking to Bobby Womack and Al Green on Saturday Night (Thanks Grandma Betty). But there was one album. One record that I wanted but could not find. I searched the bins at the Record Archive, dug through the piles at the Great House of Guitars, but to no avail. No matter where I looked, I could not find Michael Franks' "The Art Of Tea" Then one day my mom called from her car phone, which in 1994 was pretty cool. "I found your Michael Franks record" It was at a garage sale. My mom found "The Art Of Tea" at a garage sale. And now that I had my Michael Franks record I could listen to

Michael Franks
The Art Of Tea
Popsicle Toes

I didn't know until years later that Joe Sample and the rest of the Crusaders played all the instruments on Michael Franks' album The Art of Tea. I'm a huge Michael Franks fan now, and that's thanks in large part to Joe Sample's contribution.

In the 1980's Warner Brother's music had a whole slew of Jazz artists that I just loved. Al Jarreau, David Sanborn, George Benson, the list goes on and on. This crop of jazz artists change the way I look at music, and Joe Sample was at the center. And you can't look at Joe Sample without looking at his collaboration with Randy Crawford. Joe Sample & Randy Crawford were a match made in heaven. Joe wrote Randy's big hits Street Life, and One Day I'll Fly Away, which Nicole Kidman sang in Moulin Rouge, and Randy Crawford won a Grammy.
Joe Samples solo work is amazing, and on it's own can be spoken about for decades to come, but him and Randy Crawford have an undeniable chemistry. In the studio, on stage, it really doesn't matter. Whenever these two get together you know something wonderful is going to happen.  About 5 or six years back I got Joe Sample & Randy Crawford's CD Feelin' Good for Christmas. I'm not being dramatic, or overstating at all. I enjoyed it more than any gift I got that year. I also got an iPad that year. I know what you're thinking, and trust me. I APPRECIATED the iPad a TON more, and the CD was certainly replaceable. But in terms of hours of use? Joe & Randy won. In the car, in the shower, making dinner. I listened to it everywhere. That album contains one of my favorite covers of my favorite songs

Randy Crawford
Featuring the Joe Sample Trio
Everybody's Talkin'

In a little bit of trivia. Upright bass player Niklas Sample in this video is Joe's son.

Finally, a sad yet beautiful love song, again by Joe & Randy Crawford. Again another absolute favorite. Almaz is quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. Joe Sample's music touched us all. In ways you don't know, but certainly would recognize, you've heard Joe Sample. Jazz lovers, piano players, music lovers. We have lost one of our greats today. God Bless you Joe. He certainly blessed us with you

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