Jazz Crusaders – Kick The Jazz: Jazz In The Hip-Hop Generation

Jazz Crusaders
Kick The Jazz: Jazz In The Hip-Hop Generation
WMGW – 2008

In the mid 50’s Wayne Henderson, along with childhood buddies Wilton Felder, Joe Sample, and Nesbert “Stix” Hooper, after leaving Houston, formed the nucleus of the JazzCrusaders/Crusaders.

Henderson took the lead in sculpting the quartet’s dazzling style into one that was revolutionary, with considerable eclectic overtones. By fusing elements of jazz, funk, soul, R&B, rock, Latin, and gospel, an iridescent sound emerged with such impact that a musical explosion was ignited. 

 And when the 80s arrived, we witnessed the full birth of a new feature to this musical potpourri the dominance of hip-hop. . With millions of albums sold worldwide and more than seventy-five to their (Jazz Crusaders/Crusaders) credit, such as Keep That Same Old Feeling, Scratch, Southern Comfort (Grammy nominated), and Whispering Pines (all the above written by Henderson).

Wayne Henderson opted in the 80s to lend his hand to producing other artists, including Tina Turner, Nancy Wilson, Hugh Masekela, Bill Withers, Ronnie Laws, Roy Ayers, Ramsey Lewis, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Bobby Lyle, Everette Harp, Phillip Ingram, Nathan East, Lenny Williams, Rebbie Jackson, Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, and the Jackson Five (to mention a few) while currently producing up-and-coming artists like saxophonist extraordinaire Paul Russo and fulfilling tour commitments around the globe. 

Henderson, a prolific lyricist, composed and performed “The Young Rabbits,” the title song featured in Muhammad Ali’s Academy Award-winning documentary When We Were Kings. He also played on Hugh Masekela’s double platinum “Grazing in the Grass.” Also, the Jazz Crusaders are the first fusion group to team with the English rock group Rolling Stones in a major concert. Another interesting component to Henderson’s image is his combining jazz and other genres with ‘grandma’s cooking.’

Being on stage with his traditional kitchen apron symbolizes what the band is cooking up for the audience: a side of melodic jazz stew with a touch of funk, a pinch of rock. He feels that to keep pace with progressive music styles requires a stretching of the boundaries of traditional sounds, just as it was for Miles, Coltrane, Parker, Blakey, and Ellington. Their innovations were updated versions of prior musical innovations, but with their own twists and flavor. Other notable albums by Jazz Crusaders are Soul Axess, Louisiana Hot Sauce, Happy Again, and The Endangered Species. 

However, this by no means exhausts the extensive discography of this internationally respected group. Wayne Henderson believes that because all people are one big family, music is universal in its scope and magnitude, and that ittransends genre, culture, and origin. Wayne Henderson is poised to embark on a musical journey that will not only gain momentum, but will likely never end.