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Joe Sample

Worked As Session Musician

While Sample and his band mates continued to work together, he and the other band members pursued individual work as well. In 1969 Sample made his first recording under his own name; the little-known Fancy Dance featured the pianist as part of a jazz trio. In the 1970s, as the Jazz Crusaders became simply the Crusaders and branched out into popular sounds, Sample became known as a reliable L.A.-studio musician, turning up on recordings by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, B.B. King, Joe Cocker, and vocal divas Minnie Riperton and Anita Baker. The electric keyboard was fairly new at the time, and Sample became one of the instrument's pioneers. He switched to electric keyboard for his recordings with the Crusaders themselves, and the group hit a commercial high-water mark with the hit single "Street Life" and the album of the same name in 1979.

After a few more small-group releases, Sample made his true solo debut on the MCA label in 1978 with Rainbow Seeker. It was the first of nearly 20 solo albums he recorded, most of them falling under the umbrella of what would come to be known as contemporary jazz or smooth jazz—music with well-rounded edges and strong urban contemporary influences that featured jazz solos and, often, a vocal component. Sample's compositions became favorites of jazz-pop vocalists like Al Jarreau and Randy Crawford, and he toured with Lalah Hathaway, daughter of R&B legend Donny Hathaway.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr BiographyJoe Sample Biography - Escaped Realities Of Segregation Through Music, Worked As Session Musician, Suffered From Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Selected discography