MusicDish e-Journal - January 21, 2020
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Joe Sample still on Jazz Crusade
By Cowboy Surfer, Seedless Records
(more articles from this author)
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Joe Sample rolled into Santa Barbara some 42 years after his first California gig here at the Santa Barbara Community Center playing in a "doo wop" band for free. Only this time, he was in a command performance at the historic Lobero Theatre ( ) with a trusty jazz rhythm section & the sultry songstress Lalah Hathaway creating a fever among the appreciative sellout crowd.

Sample of the legendary Jazz Crusaders gave a virtuoso performance, never missing a beat, showing that he is still the master of his domain. His touch on the piano and sense of timing prove how powerful and sensitive the emotion of jazz music is. When interpreted correctly, it is pure and raw emotion delivered like a punch with a velvet glove.

Having just returned from an adventurous gig in St. Lucia, Sample & Hathaway displayed some of the new material from their acclaimed release 'The Song Lives On' available on PRA Records . Listen to a soundclip in RealAudio.

Sample with Jay Anderson on stand up bass and talented hitter Larry Aberman on drums did a classic blues rendition of an old Nat King Cole Trio number "Gee Baby, ain't I good to you" which gives a hidden lesson on the high costs of love. In fact the whole night was a history lesson given by one Professor Sample. In between songs Sample was also a rapt storyteller, laying the groundwork for each composition.

There was the story of Scott Joplin ragging out the classics. Even how the French Quarter of New Orleans got it's nickname of Storyville (named after the old mayor of New Orleans who kicked the red light district into the tenderloin section of town. And how the old traditional jazz musicians (not dixieland) used to jazz out the rag tunes which spawned the modern jazz sound. To illustrate this sound, Sample played a solo of Jelly Roll Morton's "Shreveport Stomp" which left you feeling like you were at a bordello in N'orleans in the 20's. The song was intended to get you upstairs for a little action and it did leave me a little thirsty when it was over.

Then on the piece, "Ashes to Ashes," Aberman showed off some nice moves by playing softly with his hands, then grabbing his sticks & with some mighty hits thrilled the crowd with adept tempo changes and fills all the time following the lead of Sample who made it look easy.

In 1965, Sample was a 26 year old jazzman wearing stylish blue suits with thin ties, but he usually only had .38 cents in his pocket. He was approached by some hippie chicks at the corner of Haight & Ashbury and they mistook him for a white collar establishment dude. The encounter inspired the song, "Hippies on a Corner" which showed off Samples dexterity with a series of fluid runs & beautifully layered chord structures for days. Again there was good interaction between Sample & Aberman.

It was at this point that Lalah stepped onto the stage and took over from there. With her soft, yet powerful vocal strokes, she was able to capture and captivate the audience on tunes like "Fever," "Street Life," "When your life was low" and "For all we know." She had a dreamy, creamy sound that took you from the ground up to the clouds in one phrase.

What a lovely way to burn, indeed! I got fever…..

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