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The Greatest Jazz Group In History
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The Greatest Jazz Group In History

So who am I talking about, when I talk about the Crusaders, well most people could be forgiven for thinking that I am talking about the series of religious expeditionary wars that were fought during the 11th, 12th and 13th century. Or could it be the rugby union team from New Zealand who are also called the Crusaders. The answer to these questions is no, the Crusaders who were also known as the Jazz Crusaders, are an American music group that were quiet popular in the 1970s.

Now then who are these Jazz Crusaders, well to start of, the Jazz Crusaders consisted of members that played for various Houston-based groups like the Swingsters and the Nite Hawks. Eventually however, the pianist: Joe Sample, the drummer: Stix Hooper, the saxophonist: Wilton Felder and the trombonist: Wayne Henderson, all moved to California. The Jazz Crusaders had a sound that focused on rhythm and blues as well as soul.

Later however they started playing a jazz-funk style and changed their name to simply the Crusaders. Two new members in, Robert Popwell and Larry Charlton would join the band and the Crusaders started producing some of the greatest jazz hits that I have ever and probably ever will hear. On the Best of the Crusaders album there is the liver version of So Far Away, where the band members engage in musical conversation, with each member except for Stix Hooper, getting a 2 minute solo. The saxophonist, Wilton Felder manages to blow the same note for roughly 2 or 3 minutes without breathing, which I find incredible.

I think that never before have there been a group like the Crusaders, and there probably never will be a group like them. These guys absolutely loved producing the smooth and rhythmic sounds that made them legends in the Jazz music industry. What amazes me is that the music they produced almost 35 years ago, still sounds good today, I was not even born yet when they were releasing albums, but through sheer good fortune, I was lucky enough to come across the vinyl record that my father owned, and I found a working vinyl player so that I could listen to the Best of the Crusaders album.

The group briefly disbanded in the 1990s after losing several key members, however in 2003 the reunited Crusaders featuring Joe Sample , Stix Hooper and Wilton Felder did one last album together as well as a live concert in Japan in 2004. So even though their time has passed, people like myself will carry on the legacy by simply introducing the world to the greatest Jazz group in History, the Crusaders.


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