One of the most successful Japanese piano trio recordings of the 70s – a super-session performed by a a trio of Americans that includes Joe Sample on acoustic piano, Ray Brown on bass, and Shelly Manne on drums! Given that Sample's best known during the era for his electric keys with the Crusaders (and on countless studio sessions), it's a real treat to hear him tickle the ivories in an acoustic way – and a genuine surprise to hear how strong his work is in such a format.
The very first release by the Concord label was a quartet set featuring guitarists Herb Ellis and Joe Pass, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Jake Hanna. Ellis and Pass (the latter was just beginning to be discovered) always made for a perfectly complementary team, constantly challenging each other. The boppish music (which mixes together standards with "originals" based on the blues and a standard) is quite enjoyable with the more memorable tunes including "Look for the Silver Lining," "Honeysuckle Rose," "Georgia," "Good News Blues," and "Bad News Blues." This was a strong start for what would become the definitive mainstream jazz label.
Concord Music Group will release five new titles in its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series on September 17, 2013. Enhanced by 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, bonus tracks (some previously unreleased), and new liner notes to provide historical context to the originally released material, the series celebrates the 40th anniversary of Pablo Records, the prolific Beverly Hills-based label that showcased some of the most influential jazz artists and recordings of the 1970s and '80s.
One of the many jazzmen who started out playing hard bop but went electric during the fusion era, Joe Sample was, in the late '50s, a founding member of the Jazz Crusaders along with trombonist Wayne Henderson, tenor saxman Wilton Felder, and drummer Stix Hooper. The Crusaders' debt to Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers wasn't hard to miss – except that the L.A.-based unit had no trumpeter, and became known for its unique tenor/trombone front line. Sample, a hard-swinging player who could handle chordal and modal/scalar improvisation equally well, stuck to the acoustic piano during the Crusaders' early years – but would place greater emphasis on electric keyboards when the band turned to jazz-funk in the early '70s and dropped "Jazz" from its name.