You know what? You don't hear much about the Crusaders around these parts, which is a shame, considering that the group was formed right here in Houston. You never hear about how piano man Joe Sample joined up with tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder and drummer Nesbert "Stix" Hooper and formed a trio back in high school that would later become known as fusion pioneers the Jazz Crusaders. You never hear about how such future legends as Wayne Henderson, Hubert Laws and Larry Carlton joined in on the band's crusade over the years. You never hear about how they dropped the "Jazz" from their name in the 1970s when they realized that there was just as much soul and funk in the mix as there was jazz. And you probably haven't heard that after years of studio hibernation, the core trio of Sample, Hooper and Felder has returned to record racks with its new album, Rural Renewal, featuring guest shots from Eric Clapton and Donnie McClurkin. Well, now you've heard of them. So welcome these boys home when they come up here and perform. Hey, you just might run into some old folks who'll be willing to share some of that Crown Royal they smuggled in.
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