This week, we check in on pianist Joe Sample, who's coming to St. Louis to perform with his trio starting Wednesday, March 27 through Saturday, March 30 at Jazz at the Bistro.
Now 74, the Houston native first gained fame in the early 1960s, blending jazz with soul, R&B and pop influences as a founding member of the Jazz Crusaders. Sample began developing his solo career beginning in the late 1970s, enjoying considerable commercial success with albums such as Rainbow Seeker and Carmel. He's continued to work as a solo act through the various subsequent reformations and breakups of the Crusaders, sometimes recording with vocalists such as Randi Crawford, who sang on the Crusaders' "Street Life," and Lalah Hathaway, daughter of R&B great and former St. Louisan Donny Hathaway.
Sample's most recent CD is a live album released in 2012, recorded with Crawford, his son Nick Sample on bass, and Steve Gadd on drums. He was in St. Louis most recently when the reunited Crusaders (minus original drummer Stix Hooper) performed in June 2011 at the Touhill.
Today's clips include several of Sample's most popular compositions, starting up above with a trio version of "Freedom Sound" - the title track to the Jazz Crusaders' 1961 debut album - recorded in 2009 at Anthology in San Diego.
Down below, you can hear Sample improvise an intro going into "Melodies of Love," recorded in 1985 in Japan, followed by a version of the title track from his 1989 album Spellbound, recorded shortly after the album's release for the David Sanborn-hosted NBC program Night Music.
Below that, there's a version of "Ashes to Ashes," recorded in 2000 with bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Larry Aberman, and two tracks from a late-1990s gig with drummer Buddy Williams, percussionist Lenny Castro, and bassist Mike Manson: the Latin-flavored "Hippies On A Corner" and the concert staple "Carmel."