Sunday, February 27, 2005

On A Funk Crusade

The Crusaders are one of the biggest Jazz Fusion bands around. The group was originally founded by four members: Trombonist Wayne Henderson, Saxophonist Wilton Felder, Pianist Joe Sample, and Drummer Stix Hooper. The Band was birthed in the 50's as The Modern Jazz Sextet, and they mainly stuck to playing traditional jazz. As the years moved on this group of talented musicians went through many name changes and many metamorphoses until they eventually became The Jazz Crusaders, and their history unfurls from there...

In the 70's the group made a change that placed them into funk history. They dropped the "Jazz" from their name to simply be known as The Crusaders. This name change is quite monumental, because it signified the fact that the group wanted to expand it's musical horizons to cover more than jazz. Those Horizon's soon included funk, soul, and rock combined with jazz to make a potent musical gumbo that gained The Crusaders world wide recognition. This recognition has enabled The Crusaders to re-unite and do tours world wide long past their prime.

The Crusaders' highest point was with the release of the single and album "Street Life" which was an enormous hit for the group. The Crusaders never seen such heights again. In fact their music soon after became what was described as "elevator music with a beat," and the The Crusaders disbanded a few years later. Each member went off on their own path, with Joe Sample being the most successful by having a long rewarding solo career.

When I stumbled upon The Crusaders' music I was initially taken aback by how much this group has been sampled. They've been sampled by artists ranging from The Beastie Boys to 2pac. Even DJ Premier couldn't resist sampling them for his classic productions. There have been countless others as well who have sampled them. Every time I go back and listen to The Crusaders albums I find more sounds that have been lifted and placed into some first-class Hip Hop tracks.

I've Chosen three tracks to share with you all. These tracks are incredibly funky and soulful! Depending on how familiar you have been with Hip Hop over the years you will notice that at least a dozen songs have been spawned from just these three examples of this group's musical brilliance.

Soul Shadows
Whispering Pines
Joe Sample - In All My Wildest Dreams