Andre’s Amazon Archive for 2/7/2015: ‘Healing The Wounds’ by The Crusaders

Healing The Wounds

In the days since the passing of Joe Sample,I continue to be bought back to the moment when I first heard the Crusaders album Street Life on the brand new cassette deck-cruising back from Strawberries record store on a balmy summer evening in the family’s 1992 Toyota Corolla sometime in early 1994. This was the first time I can recall hearing the Crusaders. Of course then being deep into my Jacksons/ Michael Jackson period,it never occurred to me that Wilton Felder played bass on “I Want You Back” in 1969. As time has marched on? The Crusaders have come to represent the very core of the qualities I most appreciate in instrumentalists overall. This was an album my father had in his collection for years. It was the Crusaders first release of the 90’s. And it featured the bass playing and production of one of my top favorite musicians-Marcus Miller. Hadn’t heard it in some years,and when I did wasn’t sure who this was. So its a privilege to come back to this now,with the knowledge I have today,to go more in depth into it’s contents.

“Pessimisticism” is ever the classic Marcus Miller style production-with the heavy funk bottom. Interesting enough,its another of Joe Sample’s harmonically expansive compositions-setting a very probing,questioning melodic mood. Joe Zawinul’s classic “Mercy Mercy Mercy” is given the classic Crusaders slow burn groove treatment-one where Felder’s sax (as usual) really gets a chance to shine as he sustains and bends the notes of the chorus just beautifully. ” Little Things Mean A Lot” is a mid tempo bossa with a Caribbean flavor added to the rhythm. Stevie Wonder’s “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” receives a very progressive fusion style arrangement-ending with some very cinematic chord progressions built around Stevie’s iconic melodicism. “Shake Dance” represents one of my favorites on the album-another Miller composition with a very strong late 80’s hard funk feel-centering strongly not only around his bass but rapid fire instrumental breaks. “Maputo” is another favorite of mine,and another Miller composition and is another slow burning groove with a strong,swelling melody. Joe Sample finishes off the album with the title song and “Running Man”-two more melodically probing compositions with that ideal blend of jazz and funk rhythms the Crusaders do so well.

Music throughout the decades can be slickly produced. But slick production changes with every technological innovation in recording. And in their time together,the Crusaders had by this time already been recording entities through at least three significant recording innovations. By this time,that included the era of full digital recording. What made it all work was the renowned synergy that was not only created by the Crusaders themselves,but any other musicians who happened to be playing with them. And that also adds into another thing that makes the music the band creates so special: those small instrumental touches that almost seem like they shouldn’t be too significant. Session guitarist Michael Landau’s lowly mixed guitar riffs generally only play accents on these songs,for example. But they serve as an important building block that creates the house of rhythm. What may sound like a minor instrumental part on a Crusaders albums such as this serves as far more than mere sound coloring. They have a voice. They make a statement. Everything about a Crusaders song-instrumentally and melodically,just seems to have meaning when you listen to it. And it’s this gift of instrumental personality and strong affection for their craft that made musicians such as Joe Sample masters of the very thing they did best.

Originally Posted On September 14th,2014

Link to original review here*

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Filed under 1990s, Jazz-Funk, Joe Sample, Joe Zawinul, Marcus Miller, The Crusaders, Wilton Felder

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