Jazz Crusaders ‘Give peace a chance’ (BBR) 4/5

Prior to their extended run of success in the mid-late 1970s, the Jazz Crusaders as they were then known, were a more acoustic-based straight ahead jazz unit with soulful references and this album catches them in transitional period on their last album (and it was already the group’s seventeenth album in total) for the Pacific Jazz label in 1970. The three Texas born musicians who initially formed the band, keyboardist Joe Sample, trombonist Wayne Henderson and saxophonist Wilton Felder went to the same high school together and it was this natural empathy that one finds on this attractive sounding recording. Drummer Stix Hooper would join the collective later. As on previous albums, there was a mixture of covers of the latest pop hits of the time plus some interesting originals. Of the latter, by far the most original and engaging is the Hooper composition ‘Anita’s new dance’ which features a memorable main theme restated. For fans of modal vamps, the eleven minute ‘Space settlement’ should fit the bill with a searing tenor solo from Felder. There is even some hard bop in the Jazz Messengers vein on the Sample number ‘Another blues’ which features some fine basslines laid down by Buster Williams and a distinctive solo from Henderson. Of the covers, B.B. King’s ‘The thrill is gone’ is is essentially a soul-jazz vehicle and frankly could have been developed further. Once again the Beatles are the principal listening interest for the Crusaders with faithful, if not especially inventive, versions of ‘Black Bird’ and the title track that follow on from covers of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and Hey Jude’ on two earlier live albums. Not essential listening by any means, but fans of both the jazz and fusion sides of the Crusaders lengthy career will want to own a copy of this. Tim Stenhouse

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