Joe Sample – The Pecan Tree
The Pecan Tree
(Warner – 2002)
by Carmen Miller
Joe Sample is one of the artists that you use when judging the creations and performances of other artists. Throughout the years Sample has provided us with beautiful creations and lasting melodies and The Pecan Tree, so named in deference to Samples East-Texas roots, continues that trend right from the start with the catchy title track. “Hot and Humid” (another Texas reference) has some nice bass lines from Jay Anderson with Sample’s signature piano dancing all around it. Vocalist Lizz Wright adds spice to the thoughtful “No One but Myself to Blame” and “Fool’s Gold”, which reminds me in ways of the Sample’s writing style from the Crusaders era. “X Marks The Spot”, featuring former Shalimar vocalist Howard Hewitt, is an R&B flavored tune aimed at the crossover market; and it should do OK… I liked it.
Hewitt also croons on “With These Hands”, a more classic jazz ballad, with some degree of success. He’s no Phil Perry, but Hewitt adds his own style and inflection to Sample’s masterful keyboarding and pulls this one off. “Spanish Moss”, “El Dorado” and “The Texas Two Step” continue the Texas trend, all enjoyable instrumental tracks which illustrate samples piano prowess. Overall I enjoyed this CD a lot. There were no bad surprises, and no chart busters leapt out at me either, but I got a CD filled with great songs and memorable new compositions and that’s more than worth the money.