At the very south end of Indian Hill Blvd., I stumbled upon the African American Museum of Beginnings that was filled from wall to wall – shelf to shelf – with Black culture from all around the world, and one of the many artifacts that caught my eye was this alluring record from an artist I’ve never have come across.
THE JAZZ CRUSADERS was a jazz fusion group that began in 1952 and remained active until 2010. The album, Old Socks New Shoes New Socks Old Shoes (1970), contains some jazz covers of songs, most notably Sly and the Family Stone’s Thank You, and some originals all of which are instrumentals with keyboards, drums, trombone, saxophone, and guitars in a complete symphony. Wayne Henderson , Wilton Felder, Joe Sample, and “Stix” Hooper guide you into their world of funk, compassion, sorrow, and commotion as these maestros soulfully bring swing and dance.
It begins with Thank You, where its funkiness creates a feeling like you can take on the world. The vocals of Sly Stone, Rose Stone, Freddie Stone, and Larry Graham are emulated by THE JAZZ CRUSADERS’ pumping instruments, flawlessly capturing the bounciness of the original. Its quicker tempo draws you in with more movement than the original where instead of bobbing down asphalt streets, you’re dashing through the teeming city trying to absorb all the life.
Even when the THE JAZZ CRUSADERS’ slow down their tempo in Why Do You Laugh at Me?, they capture the emotion of overcoming, where obstacles and hardships of one’s life will exist, but one can brush it off with the gloomy, yet uplifting chords.
Side B begins dramatically with Golden Slumbers, with the drummer easing the ride and allowing the trombone and saxophone to introduce you into a melancholic world. The keys provide the overall evocation of mourning, until the brass reenters with absolutely soulful balance, unveiling their deepest emotions.
Jazz! starts in a descent of piano chords and is accompanied with a drum fill in haste, where finally the saxophone leads the the band into the business and hectic nature of commotion. The song’s high speed and swinging, daring drums fight against the keys in a case of tug-o-war, until a the drums solo devours all the commotion and dance into his own compilation of absolute chaos composed to the unprecedentedness of jazz. Finally the saxophone, trombone, keys, drums unite into a singular force of jazz through the swarms of crowded streets of Houston.
The final track on the album, Way Back Home, is a feel good jam between the members, as though moving away from their troubles and looking forward to a brighter day. Its easy-going drums and keys keep a constant beat to allow the saxophone and trombone to lead your way to a the light at the end of the tunnel. It seems like THE JAZZ CRUSADERS are in hand in hand with you where together, we could handle whatever comes our way.
THE JAZZ CRUSADERS’ in Old Socks New Shoes, New Socks Old Shoes bring you back into the 70s with the soul that indelibly marked that era. They crusade against the weight of things that drag one down, so you can stride through the world without a worry. Just put on your socks, old or new, and put your best boots on for a journey through soul.