Randy Crawford and Joe Sample
Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Tue 5 Dec; Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Wed 6 Dec
If they had never done anything else together, singer Randy Crawford’s association with Joe Sample and the Crusaders would have gained immortality for their 1979 classic Street Life alone. As it turned out, though, they went on to work quite a bit together over the years, and are reunited again this month as part of a European tour.
Sample first met the singer when he played piano on her debut album three decades ago. The Jazz Crusaders, the band he shared with fellow Houston natives Wilton Felder, Stix Hooper, and Wayne Henderson, were already well-established, initially as a feisty hard bop outfit, and latterly (just as The Crusaders) as a commercially successful crossover soul and funk fusion outfit.
The pianist liked what he heard, and invited Crawford to sing as a guest on their own album, writing Street Life for the occasion. Their latest album together, Feeling Good, was released this summer, and gives a fair indication of what to expect from these concerts.
Although the singer, who was born in Macon, Georgia, but brought up in Cincinnati, acquired an early jazz pedigree working with Quincy Jones, Cannonball Adderley and George Benson, Crawford has never been an out-and-out jazz singer, and Sample has enjoyed working across an eclectic range of music that has brought his work - especially with the Crusaders - to a much wider audience.
The mixture of classic soul, jazz, gospel, pop and blues is aimed at the broad fan base enjoyed by both artists, For the album, they drew on the stellar talents of Christian McBride on bass and Steve Gadd on drums, but Sample’s touring trio will feature Nikolas Sample and Johnny Vidacovich in those roles.