Berks Jazz Fest 2011: The Jazz Crusaders

Late Saturday night, the legendary Jazz Crusaders in their original lineup featuring Joe Sample on piano, Wayne Henderson on trombone and Wilton Felder on saxophone appeared, additional members were Joe's son Nicklas Sample on bass and Doug Belote on drums. The original players must be well above 70, and their age showed in some physical limitations, forcing them to perform mostly sitting, but they did a great job nevertheless. We went back in time to the 50ies and 60ies when they started out, being childhood buddies from the same neighborhood. They kicked off the show with "Young Rabbits", followed by "On Broadway" with nice solos by all involved, other tracks were the Stix Hooper composition "Night Theme", their famous "Freedom Song" and cover of "Eleanor Rigby", then they moved to later material like "Snowflake" and the great "Scratch". In between songs, they made lengthy and humorous remarks and reminisced about how things were back in the day. They finished the show with the inevitable "Street Life", followed by the ultimate Crusaders track "Way Back Home" that brought back fond memories of my youth, when I listened to them the very first time, helping to ignite my lifelong love for jazz. This was a memorable evening witnessing some living legends still doing their thing.