The Jazz Crusaders: Putting the ‘Jazz’ back into the ‘Crusaders’

Wayne Henderson, one of the original Jazz Crusaders members, stopped by the Jazz24/KPLU studios. Credit Justin Steyer / KPLU

When Joe Sample (piano), Wilton Felder (saxophone), and Wayne Henderson (trombone) moved from Houston to LA to being their collective recording career, they called their band The Jazz Crusaders.  Their focus was acoustic be-bop tinged with R&B and soul music.  In 1971, they dropped the word ‘Jazz’ from their name, began delving into jazz-funk and became world-famous as The Crusaders.

For all intents and purposes the group disbanded in the 1990’s, but they’re now touring again as The Jazz Crusaders.  So why did they drop the ‘Jazz’ in the first place?  That’s one of the questions that Abe Beeson asks the band in this studio session.

As Abe’s questions are answered by Sample and Felder, it quickly becomes apparent that these men have known each other for many, many years and still take great delight in each others’ company.  There’s a lot of comfortable good humor in the interview and a lot of experience and heart in the music they play.  The Jazz Crusaders are back (with solid rhythm support from drummer Doug Belote and Joe’s son, Nicklas Sample, on bass).


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