Sampling Joe Sample: 1977

Photo by Marco Torres
Joe Sample (left) and his TSU students, 2013
By 1977, the individual members of the Crusaders were so successful that the pressure to record two albums a year no longer applied. There was no new Crusaders album in 1977, but that doesn't mean the members weren't working, and working hard.

Trombonist Wayne Henderson was trying his hand at producing records, Stix Hooper could play anytime anywhere he wanted to, and Wilton Felder's career was in overdrive as he stepped up his session work with the bass guitar and his saxophone.

Meanwhile, Joe Sample kept on keeping on, working some very high-profile sessions in Los Angeles. While 1977 was not a banner year like 1975 and '76, he would end the year with one of the most significant sessions of his career, playing on Steely Dan's Aja.

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Sampling Joe Sample's Album Credits: 1964-75

Photo by Marco Torres
Joe Sample being inducted into the Houston Music Hall of Fame, 2013
Anyone who follows jazz or has much sense of Houston's music history knows that Joseph Leslie Sample, who passed away Friday night after a losing battle with lung cancer, is a giant. But Sample was not simply a virtuoso pianist, a prolific composer and one of the inventors of jazz-funk via the Crusaders.

With more than 50 years in the business, Sample amassed credits as a session player that are mind-blowing. While the Crusaders (nee Jazz Crusaders) were his main emphasis, in 1964 he began offering his services on the open market, and by 1968 he'd become a go-to Los Angeles session pro. Below are just some of Sample's most high-profile recordings as a side man from when he first began hiring himself out through 1975. Check back with us soon for more on Sample's stellar career as a session pianist, composer, and arranger.

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Sunday: iFest in Downtown Houston -- Galactic, Jason Isbell, Etc.

stone river boys april 23.jpg
Photos by Marco Torres
Stone River Boys
Houston International Festival
Downtown Houston
April 22, 2012

With a slight north breeze keeping festival-goers from broiling under a cloudless sky, Sunday's iFest turned into a perfect laid-back Houston day of rest and entertainment excess. It didn't hurt that the music lineup was both diverse and stellar, that there were virtually no lines and that things ran with an almost informal efficiency that is so typical of the Bayou City.

We started the day with Austin's Stone River Boys and the hundred or so souls mostly scrunched under the big live oak tree which offered the only shade -- shade and sunscreen being in high demand.

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Etta James: A Closer Look Into One Of The Greatest Voices Ever Heard

Etta James, almost universally praised as one of the finest voices of our era, has passed away at 73. Ironically, Ms. James had been discovered and recorded by rhythm and blues pioneer Johnny Otis, who passed away only two days ago. Ms. James, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and has been honored numerous times by the Grammys and other halls of fame.

James grew up singing in church, where she formed her first all-girl doo-wop group. Otis signed her to record the "answer song" to a hit he had produced for Hank Ballard, "Work With Me, Annie." Otis changed the group's name to The Peaches and recorded James singing "Dance With Me, Henry." The song quickly raced to No. 1 on the Rhythm and Blues chart and was instrumental in securing the group an opening slot on a tour with Little Richard.

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This Just In: Tonight's Eagles Concert Postponed to October

Categories: Take Five


According to the Toyota Center's Web site, tonight's scheduled second Houston date of the Eagles' Long Road Out of Eden tour has been postponed until Thursday, October 2. Tickets for tonight's show will be honored on the new date. Call 1-866-4-HOU-TIX for more information. - Chris Gray

Now It’s Super Happy Moving Land

Categories: Take Five
The Press just talked to Super Happy Fun Land owner Brian Arthur, who says the Heights music venue is actively seeking a new location. Arthur and company found out earlier this month the owners of the property are selling the space to make room for more fancy condos in the Heights. (Insert boos here.)

“We strongly suspected [this] for a long time,” Arthur says, adding the landlords had been trying to sell him the property since he moved in. He turned the offer down partly because he couldn’t afford it at the time, and partly because he didn’t think the building was worth the asking price. “The building was not in the greatest shape and we’d have problems with flooding and it only had one bathroom,” Arthur says. “Also, some of the shows that we’d get there, we’d have like 300 people coming into the show and the place is really… 200 people is a tight fit in there.”

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Take Five: Back Door Slam

Categories: Take Five

Back Door Slam, (l to r) Ross Doyle, Adam Jones, and Davy Knowles

Back Door Slam's front man Davy Knowles spoke to Houston Press Assistant Music Editor Olivia Flores Alvarez recently about the group's first ever American gig (SXSW), the death of founding member Brian Garvey, and stealing from the masters. The Isle of Man (England) trio has a Houston show coming up, Monday, May 14, at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel, 713-225-5483.

Take Five: Five Dollar Friend

Categories: Take Five


Five Dollar Friend came in from Austin to support Deep Ella's Empty Seas and Memories CD release party. HouStoned Rocks caught up with front man and guitarist Jacob Trevino and bass player David Wechsler for a Take Five interview.