Rural Renewal

Rural Renewal

5.0 2
by The Crusaders
     
 

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Rural Renewal is a fresh way to say “back to the roots,” but the Crusaders don’t return to their hard-bop days on this reunion CD. Rather, three original members -- pianist Joe Sample, drummer Stix Hooper, and tenor saxist Wilton Felder -- aim for the days when the band was funky and soul-filled. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the Crusaders added a heaping of

Overview

Rural Renewal is a fresh way to say “back to the roots,” but the Crusaders don’t return to their hard-bop days on this reunion CD. Rather, three original members -- pianist Joe Sample, drummer Stix Hooper, and tenor saxist Wilton Felder -- aim for the days when the band was funky and soul-filled. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the Crusaders added a heaping of Memphis-style, fatback horns to the sounds of soul jazz and immediately crossed over to pop and R&B audiences. Those same fans will be delighted with this album because it is truer than much of today’s so-called “contemporary jazz.” Guitarists Ray Parker Jr., Dean Parks, and Arthur Adams sound as if they are jamming in the moment rather than replicating someone else’s licks. For flash, Eric Clapton was invited to play on the title cut, but even the guitar god picks close to the bone. Making a guest vocal appearance is gospel sensation Donnie McClurkin, who is joined by the Sounds of Blackness for the redemptive hymn “A Healing Coming On.” “Sing the Song,” an inspirational number, also features the sweetness of McClurkin. The tunes, many of them written by Sample, have catchy melodies that suggest hip shaking and toe tapping. But Rural Renewal is mostly ‘70s feel-good music with just enough bite to make you think it really is the ‘70s.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Alex Henderson
In the '90s, things became complicated for the Crusaders fans. Keyboardist Joe Sample, and tenor saxman Wilton Felder, recorded 1991's Healing the Wounds as the Crusaders for GRP, and the mid- to late-'90s found Felder and trombonist Wayne Henderson recording for various indie labels as the Jazz Crusaders (despite Sample's objections to their use of that name). Then, in 2002, Sample, Felder and drummer Stix Hooper reunited as the Crusaders -- not the Jazz Crusaders -- and recorded Rural Renewal for Verve. Henderson is the only original member who is absent on this CD, which is surprisingly solid. Because the Crusaders/Jazz Crusaders have been in a state of uncertainly since the '80s and recorded their share of uneven, disappointing albums, one greets Rural Renewal with a certain amount of trepidation. But this release is a pleasant surprise -- in fact, it is arguably the most consistent album that the improvisers have recorded in at least 20 years. And one man who can take some of the credit for that is producer Stewart Levine, who the group worked with extensively back in the '70s. Levine is obviously a positive influence on Rural Renewal, which finds Sample, Felder, and Hooper offering an inspired dose of fusion and jazz-funk. Thankfully, Levine lets the soloists have plenty of room to stretch out. Improvisation is a big no-no on smooth jazz/NAC stations, but this 2002 edition of the Crusaders doesn't pander to radio -- instead, spontaneity prevails for Sample, Felder, and Hooper, as well as trombonist Steve Baxter, Ray Parker Jr. (guitar) and special guest Eric Clapton (who plays guitar on two tracks). Rural Renewal falls short of essential, but it's still a welcome addition to their catalog.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/25/2008
Label:
Pra Records
UPC:
0782356090729
catalogNumber:
60907
Rank:
52878

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Crusaders   Primary Artist
Sounds of Blackness   Background Vocals,Guest Appearance
Joe Sample   Organ,Piano,fender rhodes,Wurlitzer,Group Member
Arthur Adams   Guitar,Group Member
Lenny Castro   Percussion,Group Member
Eric Clapton   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Guest Appearance
Wilton Felder   Tenor Saxophone,Group Member
Stix Hooper   Drums,Group Member
Donnie McClurkin   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Ray Parker   Guitar,Group Member
Dean Parks   Guitar,Group Member
Freddie "Ready Freddie" Washington   Bass,Group Member

Technical Credits

Stewart Levine   Producer
Rik Pekkonen   Engineer
David Ritz   Liner Notes
Tommy Tucker   Engineer
Hollis King   Art Direction
Walker Evans   Cover Photo
Dan Pinder   Pro-Tools
Tom Tucker   Engineer

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Rural Renewal 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have everything The Crusaders/Joe Sample have done. I would listen to them play spoons! Their sound is timeless, at once relaxing and energizing. The funky cuts are good for a road trip, and the mellow tunes are great on a rainy day or when you're feeling down. I gave the CD to friends whose mother just passed away and dedicated "A Healing Coming On" to her memory. Better than any Hallmark card, I'd say. Color me pleasantly surprised to hear both Eric Clapton and Donnie McClurkin on the CD...LOVE IT! This CD is yet another way The Crusaders prove that you tread on thin ice when you try to pigeon-hole them. Hah! Fresh as a mint julep ice tea in the summer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Put this on, find a lonely road and cruise, the sound and the musicianship are amazing. If I could do a hundreth of what Joe Sample can with a keyboard, ... Some may find it a little "slick" but keep listening, some of it is subtle, and you will hear something new each time.