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Joe Sample Biography

Escaped Realities Of Segregation Through Music, Worked As Session Musician, Suffered From Chronic Fatigue SyndromeSelected discography


Jazz pianist

An artist who has flourished in both the artistic world of jazz and in the popular genres of funk and R&B, pianist Joe Sample has rejected artificial genre divisions. "I detest the separation that has gone on," he told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "[African-American musical styles] all came out of our spirituality, out of the church. When people say 'Are you a jazz musician?,' I say, 'No, I'm a jazz-gospel-and-blues musician." Whatever label was placed on his music, Sample had a down-to-earth style that both attracted wide audiences and commanded the respect of listeners focused on his musicianship.

Born on February 1, 1939, in Houston, Texas, Joe Sample grew up in a fertile musical crescent of the United States. "There was a migration from Louisiana into southeastern Texas during the 1920s because of flooding," he explained to the San Diego Union-Tribune. "So they moved over to the higher ground, and I grew up in a Creole neighborhood hearing zydeco and Louis Armstrong." He started playing the piano at age five, and he incorporated a range of local traditions into his music: jazz, gospel, blues, and even Latin and classical forms.


(With Jazz Crusaders) Freedom Sounds, Pacific Jazz, 1961.

Fancy Dance, Gazell, 1969.

Try Us, Sonet, 1969.

The Three, Inner City, 1975.

Swing Street Café, MCA, 1978.

Rainbow Seeker, MCA, 1978.

Carmel, Blue Thumb, 1979.

(With the Crusaders) Street Life, MCA, 1979.

Voices in the Rain, MCA, 1980.

The Hunter, MCA, 1982.

(With the Crusaders) Life in the Modern World, GRP, 1987.

Roles, MCA, 1987.

Sermonized, Warner Brothers, 1984.

Oasis, MCA, 1989.

Spellbound, Warner Brothers, 1989.

Ashes to Ashes, Warner Brothers, 1991.

Invitation, Warner Brothers, 1993.

Did You Feel That? Warner Brothers, 1994.

Old Places, Old Faces, Warner Brothers, 1995.

Sample This, Warner Brothers, 1997.

The Song Lives On, GRP, 1999.

The Pecan Tree, Universal, 2002.

(With the Crusaders) Rural Renewal, Verve, 2003.

Soul Shadows, Verve, 2004.

(With the Crusaders) The Crusaders: Live in Japan, Verve, 2004.



Chicago Sun-Times, April 5, 1992, p. Show-2.

Essence, May 1991, p. 50.

San Diego Union-Tribune, August 23, 2001, p. 19; October 10, 2004, p. F4.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 9, 1996, p. D3.


"The Jazz Crusaders," All Music Guide, www.allmusic.com (March 10, 2005).

"Joe Sample," All Music Guide, www.allmusic.com (March 10, 2005).

"Joe Sample," Richard De La Font Agency, Inc., www.delafont.com/music_acts/Joe-Sample.htm (March 10, 2005).

"Joe Sample," Verve, www.vervemusicgroup.com/artist.aspx?ob=art&src=rslt&aid=2691 (March 29, 2005).

—Jim M. Manheim

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