Jazz Crusaders:Pacific Jazz Quintet Studio Sessions (#230)

Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set


Jazz Crusaders:Pacific Jazz Quintet Studio Sessions (#230)
“The thing that set them apart was how well they played together; nobody could cut the Crusaders when it came to playing together as a unit.” – Duck Baker, Coda

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Limited Edition: 5000 copies

6 CDs -  $102.00


First-Time Ever Set From A One-of-a-Kind Band.

From their first recordings, The Jazz Crusaders proved they sounded like no one else. They took as their foundation what Joe Sample called the three pillars of African American music: jazz, blues and gospel. So many of the songs could only have come from this band, whose unique approach to writing sustained them over their many years of working together. Each member would bring tunes to the session, where they would work over them as a team. The result would be complex phrases, uncommon segment lengths and music tinged with many elements.

It's no surprise that a band as committed to ensemble writing would excel at ensemble playing, and The Jazz Crusaders were masters of the art through this period of their history. Henderson's liquid trombone, Felder's hot Texas tenor, Hooper's driving beat, and Sample's commanding, confident piano style, make the perfect blend.

When they surfaced in Los Angeles in 1961, poised to make their first LP, no one knew quite what to make of these musicians who seemed unlike any other "West Coast" organizations. Not only weren't they part of the west coast sound, whatever that was, but they didn't seem to even care about it or recognize its relevance. The Jazz Crusaders featured their own eclectic line-up; played a signature mix of sounds, all with an appealing, tight groove, that had more to do with the music's roots than a lot of the jazz they were hearing. The music they played was typical of their hometown, Houston, Texas - bluesy, soulful, and spirited.

A great discovery lies ahead for music buyers whose collections were assembled primarily in the CD era. And for others who let intervening years dull their memory of this band's truly original talent. This is the first major retrospective of The Jazz Crusaders and this collection, from the 1960s, presents them at a time when they were largely un-amplified, full of energy, and unbelievably prolific.

Read More About Jazz Crusaders:
Track Listing, Personnel & Recording Dates »

“Few jazzers are so joyously pickled in blues, soul, R&B and gospel. And Amen to that. – Kenny Weir, Sunday Herald Sun

  • Booklet
  • Audio Quality
  • Photography
  • Sample Session Notes
Hard-bop specialist Bob Blumenthal wrote the story of the Jazz Crusaders and an analysis of their 13 Pacific Jazz studio sessions with first-hand assistance from Wilton Felder, Stix Hooper and Joe Sample. The discography is rich with lots of new information.

In the age of microsizing, every Mosaic Records Box Set booklet is still 11 x 11 inches to allow our customers to appreciate all the extras we put into printing them (and for easier reading).


All but the first session in this collection was recorded on three, four or eight-track tape. Those original masters were remixed and mastered in 24 bit by Ron McMaster at Capitol Studios in Hollywood.

Photo Copyright © Protected
Jazz Crusaders
Photographs from those sessions by Woody Woodward and Ray Avery.

The Freedom Sound, May 24, 1961

The Jazz Crusaders’ debut album included Philadelphia native Jimmy Bond (1933-2001) in the bass chair, a veteran of tours with Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald and Paul Horn who became a fixture on the Los Angeles scene. Some tracks also feature guitarist Roy Gaines, a contemporary from Houston who has spent the ensuing decades carrying on the Texas blues traditional personified by his idol T-Bone Walker. The music was produced in two sessions, with Gaines present only at the first. The Geek, a Felder blues in 6/8, captures the sanctified sound made popular at the time by Cannonball Adderley’s recording of Bobby Timmons’ This Here, and gives everyone except Bond a chance to blow. Gaines begins, his rather archaic electric sound creating an effect when he moves into octaves far different than what one heard at the time from Wes Montgomery. Henderson is powerful and succinct, with excellent support from Hooper; Sample displays his superior keyboard touch; and Felder takes an extra chorus to introduce his impassioned sound. (“It has to do with playing the blues, in blues bands, and knowing what it takes to be heard when you’re surrounded by guitars and no microphone of your own,” he says of the “Texas tenor” phenomenon.) After Hooper takes a chorus that emphasizes the form, the band blows two restrained shout choruses before returning to the theme.

The next two tracks were attempted both with and without guitar, and in each instance the takes sans Gaines were selected for release on the original LP. Length was clearly a factor in selecting the master of M.J.S. Funk, which is two and a half minutes shorter than the alternate, but there are also differences in tempo as well as some confusion at the end of the alternate take’s four-bar exchanges that carries over to the recapitulation. Henderson’s skipping medium-tempo blues, with its unusual five-bar introduction, is a bit too speedy in the master take; but the solos are all strong and there is clearly more conviction on the out chorus. Felder, propelled into the opening solo by a band break, propels the others in turn with his intensity, and Henderson makes a jaunty, sweet-and-sour statement. Sample waits until his final chorus on the master to introduce block chords, and Bond matches the mobility of his support with a fluent solo. The alternate take finds the bassist in two behind the first trombone chorus, while Gaines (who comps for the horns along with Sample) adds a few Wes Montgomery touches in his choruses before shifting into his own thing.

Henderson also contributed Coon, which illustrates original annotator John William Hardy’s comment on the writing style of the band. “The originals show freshness without being unusually defiant of musical precedent,” Hardy observed, “and are authentically `jazzy’ without sounding like all the originals you ever heard.” Coon, despite its standard 32-bar blowing form, is surely unique, with its complex phrases and orchestrated drum figures. Hooper is brilliant in the ensembles, and everyone else in the band makes the tricky melody sound second-nature. The master take is again shorter, with Hooper’s solo halved and no guitar chorus, and it also gains from a reordered sequence that puts the assertive composer in the opening spot.

Joe Sample wrote The Freedom Sound in 1958, when the band left Texas for LA. “At the time, I vowed never to set foot below the Mason-Dixon Line again,” says the pianist, who has since returned to his native Houston. “It wasn’t just the racism, it was also the violence in my neighborhood and how the rich culture of the powerful black communities had been vanishing. Benny Golson wrote a composition for Art Blakey, Blues March, that really touched me. It inspired me to write a melody with a lot of spiritual value on a march rhythm. I didn’t want to present it to the band at first, because it didn’t sound jazzy. It took me a few years to realize that the uniqueness of things like that was not a weakness.”

The Freedom Sound became one of the jazz world’s civil rights anthems, and features an arrangement built around the piano lead that recalls the Houstonians’ early fascination with the Modern Jazz Quartet. Sample, Felder and Bond get a chorus each, with the calm determination of the tenor solo in perfect keeping with the tune’s message. The flexibility of Hooper’s beat, and Bond’s extended solo, recall another highly evocative contemporary composition on a similar subject, Charles Mingus’ Fables Of Faubus. “Don Heckman once called me a storyteller,” Sample adds, “and I do tell stories when I write and play music. It goes back to how visions would run through my head when I heard Peer Gynt and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as a kid. I could smell things when I heard that music, and that’s what I was after with The Freedom Sound.”

The popularity of an edited version on a 45 (with The Geek as flip side) indicates how well Sample succeeded. The Freedom Sound remained a staple in the band’s book, and appeared in a live version recorded at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival on The Festival Album. It also survived into the post-Jazz Crusaders era, appearing on the band’s 1973 disc Unsung Heroes.

The then-unknown Chicago saxophonist Eddie Harris had recorded Theme From `Exodus’ four months earlier, and his version was already establishing itself as a surprise hit. The Jazz Crusaders version is more somber and reduces the melody to a 16-bar blowing form, with Henderson stating the theme. Enlivening touches include a brief pedal-point interlude separating the tenor and trombone solos and the four-bar exchanges between Sample and Bond.

Felder’s That’s It has a logically labyrinthine theme worthy of Benny Golson. The form is AABA, but the main section covers 22 bars in distinct 8/6/8 bar sections, and together with the eight-bar bridge forms a 74-bar chorus that had to be tricky to navigate. Structural complexity may explain the awkward edit between the tenor and trombone solos, although both Henderson and the composer retain their composure. Felder, who acknowledges no other goal than “reflecting what I heard and saw at the time” when he wrote the piece, provided a forum for the more complex notions of this uncommonly full-spectrum band.

“It has been some time since an unknown and unrecorded group has made a more auspicious debut,” Hardy concluded in his original liner notes. “Whether or not they can stay together as a wholly jazz playing aggregation will depend on many factors, or course,” he added; “but frankly I wouldn’t bet against them."


Click here to write a review

  Defines its era...
Anyone who criticizes jazz for being too stodgy or intellectual needs to get their head checked and hear some Jazz Crusaders. These guys are fun! And talented! This has got that mid-60's soul stank on it too so you know it rules. Hearing these guys in their prime must have been a revelation! I imagine this just coming out of windows on every corner while the elders sat in chairs smoking cigarettes watching their world deteriorate around them. If I was a kid, I would've wanted to hear this while playing stickball in the street or running through hydrant streams. This is jazz! Dig it...
  An effortlessly enjoyable listen!
The Jazz Crusaders embody the very essence of cohesiveness, complimenting one another perfectly. Each member was a composer as well as a performer for the group, each with a strong "voice" and interesting things to "say". The Jazz Crusaders have a truely unique sound which distinguishes them from the other jazz purveyers of their day and I can't think of a group that is as effortlessly enjoyable to listen to. Reviewing several of the numbers that appear on this set makes one wonder how on earth they were going to pull them off. The fact that they do make them work and most times, quite wonderfully, is only further testament to great musicianship of misters Sample, Felder, Henderson, and Hooper. For Jazz Crusaders fans, this is a great opportunity and a no-brainer buy. For those who don't know the Jazz Crusaders, it's time that you finally get to know them.
I was first introduced to the Jazz Crusaders in the early 60's while in college. Somewhat disappointed with their later commercial efforts, this set of earlier stuff is truely a revelation. The sound quality is excellent. My first boxed set but not my last. I have had these 6 CDs in constant retation for weeks. Keep up the great work.
  "Jazz" Crusaders truly remarkable!
What a delightful compilation this is to be sure! Having been a fan of the Crusaders in the mid to late seventies I have only recently discovered their more "mainstream" efforts. These men clearly had much more to do with the development of the "fusion" sound than they have been given credit for to date. My perception is that many avoid the American art form called Jazz because they believe it to be less than accessible. Anyone can listen to these men from Houston and find that Jazz can be melodic, inviting, and joyful. I have only recently discovered Mosaic. I am very impressed with the company from top to bottom! The music is incredible, packaging and presentation impeccable and the delivery is prompt as well as reliable. I am looking forward the the new Mulligan release on Select!
  Another gem of a collection
I've been listening to jazz since the mid-1970s, but I can't work out how I've managed to overlook the Jazz Crusaders until recently. The band is like a breath of fresh air and if you haven't bought this collection, don't waste any more time - get it!
  Just what I expected!
Got it yesterday and have played it non-stop since. This collection is exceptional with the flavor of soul and Jazz that you would expect from this stellar group. This is my 24th Mosaic box set (not includeding Mosaic Select). I grew up on this music and it is still as fresh today as it was then. Get it!
  Stunningly beautiful
Last year I started collecting Mosaic sets and there is no end to the quality of music on offer. This Jazz Crusaders box gives 7-8 hours of perfect music. And really, you could play all 6 discs in a row without getting bored for one second. Thanks and best wishes from Alkmaar, Netherlands
I am so pleased with the news of this collection by the Jazz Crusaders. I've been a fan since the late 1960's, and have been trying to acquire some of this music for years. The wait is finally over. Thank you Mosaic.
Mosaic is to be commended for giving the seminal group the Jazz Crusaders its due. Sample/Hooper/Felder/Henderson's brand of music has inspired so many musicians of all stripes since the '60s, and the recordings and concerts remind us that jazz can be FUN as well as moving and artful and mind-stretching. I am certain these recordings will do something that you may be surprised at: they'll make you grin from ear to ear and tap your feet. Thanks, Mosaic. I can't wait for mine. I'm only witholding one note from my review for your limiting the sessions to just the core group; perhaps the expanded group and/or live sessions for the Pacific Jazz label could be turned into some Mosaic Selects....?
  Music to live by
I have preordered this set based on the strength of the three samples. Truth be told, I'd have ordered it anyway. This will be my 16th Mosaic set (in addition to a few of the Select sets). As much as I like what I've already acquired, I expect to like this the best. I can't wait for the end of month. Truly, music to live by...and work by.

Jazz Crusaders:Pacific Jazz Quintet Studio Sessions (#230)
Jazz Crusaders:Pacific Jazz Quintet Studio Sessions (#230)
Limited Edition: 5000 copies
6 CDs - $102.00

Customer Reviews:

"Got it yesterday and have played it non-stop since. This collection is exceptional with the flavor of soul and jazz that you would expect from this stellar group. This is my 24th Mosaic box set."
Read More Reviews »

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