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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Live at Montreux 2003

Eagle Vision EREDV 71




1. Spiral

2. Viva De Funk

3. Creepin'

4. Way Back Home

5. Carnival Of The Night

6. Put It Where You Want It

7. The Thrill Is Gone

8. Soul Shadows

9. Street Life

10. Imagine

11. Rural Renewal

12. Ghostbusters
1976 Bonus Tracks

1. Soul Caravan
2. A Ballad For Joe (Louis)
3. Spiral
4. Hard Times
2003 Tracks

Joe Sample - Keyboards
Stephen Baxter - Trombone
Wilton Felder - Saxes
Ray Parker Jr. - Guitar
Kendrick Scott - Drums
Freddie Washington - Bass
Randy Crawford - Vocals (tracks 7-10)
1976 Bonus Tracks

Joe Sample - Keyboards
Wilton Felder - Saxes
Nesbert "Stix" Hooper - Drums
Larry Carlton - Guitar
Robert "Pops" Popwell - Bass


This DVD captures the Crusaders at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2003, in the same year as their reunion album Rural Renewal. The group was originally formed in 1961, although by this time keyboardist Joe Sample and saxist Wilton Felder were the only members left from the original line-up. I know they changed their original name from the Jazz Crusaders in 1971, but that doesn't signify that they stopped playing jazz. Their style simply moved from bebop to jazz influenced by rock and soul. Jazz-rock (or jazz-fusion, as it is now usually called) is regarded in some quarters as outdated or even not genuine jazz but the Crusaders show there's still life in the old dog. In any case, much present-day jazz uses rock rhythms like eight-in-a-bar with hardly anyone noticing, let alone complaining.

In fact on this DVD, the Crusaders play some very dynamic jazz, with Joe Sample in particular exhibiting his great talent as a melodic improviser and composer. The Crusaders' music is not only rhythmically stimulating but also often catchy, as in the tune Spiral which occurs twice here. Several of the tunes come from the album Rural Renewal, including Viva De Funk, which certainly has a funkily storming trombone solo, and Creepin' - which is not the Stevie Wonder song but a Joe Sample composition that opens with a keyboard introduction which displays Joe's dexterity as well as his blues awareness.

Put It Where You Want It is the number which the Average White Band liked so much that they gave it lyrics and included it in their debut album. On the DVD it features the agile guitarist Ray Parker Jr. Vocalist Randy Crawford - long associated with the Crusaders - comes on to perform The Thrill is Gone (perhaps made most famous by B. B. King) and two of her most memorable songs, followed by a tender interpretation of John Lennon's Imagine. Randy Crawford still has that immediately recognisable voice with its inimitable lilt. Her singing also embraces gospel fervour and funky soul. The concert ends with Ray Parker Jr. featured in his own composition, Ghostbusters, where he gets the audience to shout "Crusaders" as a refrain instead of "Ghostbusters".

To fill out the DVD to a generous couple of hours, there are four "bonus tracks" recorded at Montreux years earlier - in 1976, when "Stix" Hooper was still in the band. Most attention focuses on guitarist Larry Carlton, who had joined the Crusaders in 1971 and brought with him some touches of the guitar hero. The songs include a slow tune, Ballad for Joe (Louis), which proves that the band could play outside the funky jazz-rock idiom. The introduction to Hard Times is a tour de force for Joe Sample's keyboard skills, before Wilton Felder demonstrates a variety of electronic effects obtainable from the tenor sax. The only drawback with these bonus tracks is that the picture is often too dark - or the cameras too distant - to show much of the band. Otherwise this is a good-value DVD which should reassure viewers that the Crusaders still have jazz in their soul.

Tony Augarde





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