Joe Sample returns to the smooth jazz style of his popular albums Rainbow Seeker, Carmel, and Voices in the Rain on 1983's The Hunter. The keyboardist fills up a studio with like-minded session musicians including trumpeter Tom Browne, horn players Chuck Findley, Jerry Hey, and Ernie Watts, guitarists Dean Parks, David Spinozza, and Phil Upchurch, bassists Abraham Laboriel and Marcus Miller, percussionist Paulinho Da Costa, and drummer Steve Gadd, and sets them loose on some rhythmic tracks with a rock/R&B feel.
In case anyone has forgotten how ingratiating and prolific Joe Sample the songwriter has been, the master of elegant funk re-records 14 songs here. And it is a cooler, more reflective light in which Sample and producer George Duke see his old tunes in the '90s: with relaxed, uncomplicated, to-the-point acoustic piano leads; a mildly percolating beat; and a veneer-thin garnish of electronics.
One of the many jazzmen who started out playing hard bop but went electric during the fusion era, Joe Sample was, in the late '50s, a founding member of the Jazz Crusaders along with trombonist Wayne Henderson, tenor saxman Wilton Felder, and drummer Stix Hooper. The Crusaders' debt to Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers wasn't hard to miss – except that the L.A.-based unit had no trumpeter, and became known for its unique tenor/trombone front line. Sample, a hard-swinging player who could handle chordal and modal/scalar improvisation equally well, stuck to the acoustic piano during the Crusaders' early years – but would place greater emphasis on electric keyboards when the band turned to jazz-funk in the early '70s and dropped "Jazz" from its name.
Although Cocker's Capitol material wasn't as consistent as his A&M work, this compilation successfully distills the highlights, including the splendid "When the Night Comes," onto a single CD.
This is the album that proved to be Joe Walsh's commercial breakthrough, largely on the strength of two rock classics, one of the most beloved rock songs of the 1970s, "Rocky Mountain Way" and "Meadows". Though the album's front cover credits only Walsh, Joe shares the vocals and songwriting with the three members of his band, Barnstorm: drummer/multi-instrumentalist Joe Vitale, bassist Kenny Passarelli, and keyboardist Rocke Grace. This isn't your typical 70's classic rock album with bass, drums, guitar and vocals - it is a masterful score covering so many moods from the dark "Wolf" to the bouncy "Happy Ways" to the breezy "Days Gone By"…