picture of Joe Sample
Joe Sample
Joe (* 1939 in Houston, Texas) began to play the piano at the age of five. He was a student of the organist and pianist Curtis Mayo. In high school in the 1950s, Sample teamed up with friends saxophonist Wilton Felder and drummer "Stix" Hooper to form a group called the Swingsters. While studying piano at Texas Southern University, Sample met and added trombonist Wayne Henderson and several other players to the Swingsters, which became the Modern Jazz Sextet and then the Jazz Crusaders, in emulation of one of the leading progressive jazz bands of the day, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Sample never took a degree from the university; instead, in 1960, he and the Jazz Crusaders made the move from Houston to Los Angeles. He was a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.
 
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. The Jazz Crusaders played at first in the dominant hard bop style of the day, standing out by virtue of their unusual front-line combination of saxophone (played by Wilton Felder) and Henderson's trombone. Another distinctive quality was the funky, rhythmically appealing acoustic piano playing of Sample, who helped steer the group's sound into a fusion between jazz and soul in the late 1960s. The Jazz Crusaders became a strong concert draw during those years.
 
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 known as a Los Angeles studio musician, appearing on recordings by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, B. B. King, Joe Cocker, Minnie Riperton, Anita Baker and The Supremes. Sample was a founding member of the L.A. Express, which was started as the backing band for Tom Scott; however, both Sample and fellow Crusader Larry Carlton left after that group's first album. In 1975 Sample went into the studios with jazz legends Ray Brown, on bass, and drummer Shelly Manne to produce a then state-of-the-art recording direct to disc entitled The Three.
 
The electric keyboard was fairly new in the sixties, and Sample became one of the instrument's pioneers. The Crusaders, after losing several key members, broke up after recording Life in the Modern World for the GRP label in 1987. Despite the disbanding of the Crusaders, the members would join each other to record periodically over the years, releasing Healing the Wounds in the early 1990s. Felder, Hooper, and Sample recorded their first album, called Rural Renewal, as the reunited Crusaders group in 2003 and played a concert in Japan in 2004.
 
Some of the pianist's recent recordings are The Song Lives On (1999), featuring duets with singer Lalah Hathaway, and The Pecan Tree (2002), a tribute to his hometown of Houston, where he relocated in 1994. His 2004 album on Verve, Soul Shadows, paid tribute to Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton and pre-jazz bandleader James Reese Europe. In 2007 he recorded Feeling Good with vocalist Randy Crawford. In the mid-1970s, the Crusaders added guitarist Larry Carlton.
 
Sample appeared on stage at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 28 May 2000, playing keyboard solo on George Benson's "Deeper Than You Think". This concert was recorded and a DVD entitled George Benson: Absolutely Live was subsequently released.
 
Sample died in 2014.
 
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Discography
Black And Blue
Capitol Records ST 1824
recorded October/November 1962 in Los Angeles, CA/USA
Lou Rawls, vocals
Curtis Amy, soprano sax, tenor sax
Charlie Kennedy, alto sax
Alexander Nelson, alto sax
Jay Migliori, tenor sax
Lou Ciottitenor, tenor sax
Jack Nimitz, baritone sax
Lou Blackburn, trombone
Les Robertson, trombone
Horace Tapscott, trombone
Charles Wilson, trombone
Bob Knight, bass trombone
Bobby Bryant, trumpet
Bud Brisbois, trumpet
Bob Rolfe, trumpet
George Graham, trumpet
Irving Ashby, guitar
Gene Edwards, guitar
Richard 'Groove' Holmes, organ
Joe Sample, organ
Onzy Matthews, piano
Jim Crutcher, bass
Curtis Counce, bass
Leroy Henderson, drums
Frank Butler, drums
Ethiopian Knights
Reprise Records MS 2248
released 1973
recorded August 1971 in Los Angeles, CA/USA
Donald Byrd, trumpet
Thurman Green, trombone
Harold Land, tenor saxophone
Bobby Hutcherson, vibes
Joe Sample, organ
Bill Henderson III, piano
Don Peake, guitar
Greg Poree, guitar
David T. Walker, guitar
Wilton Felder, bass
Ed Greene, drums
Bobbye Porter Hall, congas, tambourine
High Energy
Columbia KC 33048
released 1974
recorded live April/May 1974 in Hollywood, CA/USA
Freddie Hubbard, trumpet, flugelhorn
Dale Oehler, conductor
Ernie Watts, soprano saxophone, bass flute, flute
Junior Cook, tenor saxophone, flute
Pete Christlieb, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Dick "Slyde" Hyde, trombone
George Bohanon, trombone
Dean Parks, guitar
George Cables, piano
Joe Sample, clavinet, organ
Ian Underwood, synthesizer
Kent Brinkley, bass
Harvey Mason, drums
Ralph Penland, drums
Victor Feldman, percussion
King Errison, percussion
Carmelo Garcia, percussion
Glow
Reprise Records MS 2248
released 1976
recorded February and May 1976 in Hollywood, CA/USA
Al Jarreau, vocals
Larry Carlton, guitar
Tom Canning, piano
Larry Nash, synthesizers
Joe Sample, piano, organ
Wilton Felder, bass
Willie Weeks, bass
Paul Stallworth - bass
Joe Correro, drums
Steve Forman, percussion, tambourine
Ralph MacDonald, percussion
Dale Oehler, conductor
Gate Of Dreams
Warner Bros. Records BS 3006
released 1977
recorded September and October 1976 in Hollywood, CA/USA
Claus Ogerman, conductor
David Sanborn, alto sax
Michael Brecker, tenor sax
Peter Maunu, guitar
George Benson, guitar
Joe Sample, keyboards, organ, piano
Ralph Grierson, keyboards
Chuck Domanico, bass
John Guerin, drums
Larry Bunker, percussion
Chino Valdes, congas
Relationships
Rhino Records S22 17294
released 1993
compilation of recordings between 1960 and 1972
Les McCann, keyboards, piano, vocals
Eddie Harris, tenor sax
Ben Webster, tenor sax
Teddy Edwards, tenor sax
Wilton Felder, tenor sax
Stanley Turrentine, tenor sax
Wayne Henderson, trombone
Benny Bailey, trumpet
Blue Mitchell, trumpet
Yusef Lateef, woodwind
George Freeman, guitar
Dennis Budimir, guitar
David Spinozza, guitar
Joe Pass, guitar
Richard 'Groove' Holmes", organ
Joe Sample, organ, piano
Jodie Christian, piano
Corky Hale, harp
string section
Victor Gaskin, bass
Robert Haynes, bass
Herbie Lewis, bass
Leroy Vinnegar, bass
Bill Salter, bass
Donald Dean, drums
Otis Finch, drums
Stix Hooper, drums
Paul Humphrey, drums
Ron Jefferson, drums
Buck Clarke, drums, percussion
Ralph MacDonald, drums, percussion
Alphonse Mouzon, drums, percussion
Jimmy Rowser, bass, drums, percussion
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, drums, percussion
Lou Rawls, vocals
Sample This
Warner Bros. Records 9 46572-2
recorded in Los Angeles, CA/USA
Joe Sample, organ, piano, synthesizer, Wurlitzer
Everette Harp, alto sax
Hubert Laws, flute
Dean Parks, guitar
George Duke, synthesizer
Joe Sample, organ, piano, synthesizer, Wurlitzer
Marcus Miller, bass
Jay Anderson, bass
Castro, drums, percussion
Steve Gadd, drums
Dianne Reeves, vocals
Dennis Rowland, vocals
Absolute Benson
Verve 543 840-2
recorded May 1999 in New York/USA
George Benson, guitar, vocals
Joe Sample, piano, organ, synthesizer
Carlos Henriquez, bass
Christian McBride, bass, synthesizer
Vidal Davis, drums
Steve Gadd, drums
Cindy Blackman, drums
Luis Conte, congas, percussion, timbales
Ricky Peterson, organ
David Axelrod
Mo' Wax MWR141CD
recorded in Hollywood, CA/USA
David Axelrod, conductor
Hidle Brown Barnum, conductor
Ernie Watts, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax
Lanny Morgan, alto sax
Bob Efford, baritone sax
Gene Cipriano, reeds
George Bohanon, euphonium, trombone
Oscar Brashear, piccolo trumpet, trumpet
Louis Morell, guitar
Pete Wyant, guitar
Howard Roberts, guitar, Hammond organ
Joe Sample, Hammond organ
Don Randi, piano
Don Palmer, violin
Marilyn Baker, viola
Nathan Gershman, cello
James Hughart, bass
Carol Kaye, bass
Earl Palmer, drums
Gary Coleman, percussion
Brenda Marie Eiger, vocals
Cynthia Bass, vocals
Esterlee Nicholson, vocals
John Austin, vocals
Anita Tolbert Nwede, vocals
Ras Kass, vocals
Lou Rawls, vocals
Melanie Taylor, vocals
Rural Renewal
Verve 440 060 077-2
recorded in Hollywood, CA and Sherman Oaks, CA/USA
Wilton Felder, tenor sax
Steve Baxter, trombone
Arthur Adams, guitar
Dean Parks, guitar
Ray Parker jr., guitar
Eric Clapton, guitar
Joe Sample, piano, organ
Freddie Washington, bass
"Stix" Hooper, drums
Lenny Castro, percussion
Donnie McClurkin, vocals
The Works
Bad Dog Records BDR 60808
recorded February 2008 in New York, NY/USA
Jonatha Brooke, guitar, piano
Eric Bazilian, guitar, vocals
Hiram Bullock, guitar
Greg Leisz, guitar
Derek Trucks, guitar
Mitchell Froom, Hammond organ
Joe Sample, Hammond organ, piano
Gil Goldstein, accordion
Christian McBride, bass
Steve Gadd, drums

 
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