From the 1960s to the '80s, the Crusaders--pianist Joe Sample, saxophonist Wilton Felder, drummer Stix Hooper, and trombonist Wayne Henderson--were a triple threat, with their Texas-based blend of jazz, R&B, and soul. Before they broke up, they produced a string of hits, including "Street Life" with Randy Crawford. This CD marks their long-awaited reunion, with their producer Stewart Levine and trombonist Steve Baxter filling in for Henderson. The recording is a back-to-basics project featuring the group's Houston-honed swing. Imagine Art Blakey
's Jazz Messengers with an R&B edge and you'll get this ensemble's grand grooves. Legendary rocker Eric Clapton
lends his acoustic and electric guitar licks to the title track and on the funky "Creepin'." Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin
and Sounds of Blackness
lay down their God-gifted vocals on the inspiring "A Healing Coming On" and "Sing the Song." Some Tex-Mex flavored Latin jazz is delivered on "Viva de Funk." This date shows that these life-long friends can swing in all idioms. --Eugene Holley Jr.