The year was 1989 and I was 25 when my friend Vanessa loaned me her cassette of jazz pianist Joe Sample’s album, Spellbound. It was a special time for me because I was preparing to move into my first apartment. I instantly loved “Seven Years of Good Luck” and it is still one of my favorite songs along with “Burning Up The Carnival” from Voice in the Rain. In addition to Sample’s masterful piano, there are excellent vocal contributions from Take 6 on “U Turn“, Michael Franks on “Leading Me Back To You” and Al Jarreau on “Somehow Our Love Survives.” The beautiful instrumental “All God’s Children” from this album later appeared on his The Song Lives On album as “Come Along With Me” featuring Lalah Hathaway on vocals. Other tracks include the title track “Spellbound“, “Looking Glass“, “Sermonized“, “Luna En New York” and “Bones Jive.”
I have always been fascinated how Sample showcases outstanding vocalists on his albums. He has featured Phyllis Hyman, Flora Purim, Randy Crawford, Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Lalah Hathaway, Lizz Wright, and Howard Hewett. There are also some outstanding musicians lending a hand on Spellbound including Omar Hakim on drums, Marcus Miller and Nathan East on bass, Lenny Castro on percussion, and Jerry Hey on synthesizer arrangements.
The last time I saw him in concert was in 1999 with Lalah Hathaway at Yoshi’s. I was seating right behind him while he played and he was amazing. He and Lalah blended so well together. I am looking forward to seeing him later this summer at the Monterey Jazz Festival with The Crusaders and special guest vocalist Randy Crawford. Enjoy your music and have a safe holiday weekend.
Additional Joe Sample Albums
Rainbow Seeker (1978)
Voice in the Rain (1981)
Ashes to Ashes (1990)
Old Places, New Faces (1996)
Sample This (1997)
The Best of Joe Sample (1998)
The Song Lives On featuring Lalah Hathaway (1999)
The Pecan Tree (2002)