JAZZ CRUSADERS FOUNDER NESBERT “STIX” HOOPER MAKES RARE L.A. CONCERT APPEARANCE


@blues2jazzguy ~stage photos-Robert Hill

Nov.17_Friday night in L.A, a intimate crowd of super fans gathered at The Jerry Moss Theater. Mainly to catch a rare glimpse of the last surviving member of The Jazz Crusaders.

You know..That powerful ensemble that played muscular, bluesy variations of bebop known as hard bop. Their roots coming out of Houston,Texas. Nesbert or Stix, as he is affectionately called, formed a core group in high school, along with pianist Joe Sample, tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder while performing together as the Swingsters in high school. Joe Sample met the trombonist Wayne Henderson at Texas Southern University and also joined by bassist Henry Wilson and woodwinds specialist(flutes/saxes) Hubert Laws. Laws went on to achieve notoriety on his own as a master flautist and bandleader. But during this period, they had changed its name to the Modern Jazz Sextet.

Stix and the band worked the Houston area for several years but did not have much major success until Mr. Sample, Mr. Felder, Mr. Hooper and Mr. Henderson moved to Los Angeles and changed their name to The Jazz Crusaders, a reference to the drummer Art Blakey’s seminal hard-bop ensemble, The Jazz Messengers. Their first album, “Freedom Sound,” released on the Pacific Jazz label in 1961, sold well, and they recorded prolifically for the rest of the decade, with all four members contributing compositions, while performing to enthusiastic global audiences and critical praise.

The Jazz Crusaders went on to become one of the most highly acclaimed jazz group in the history of music. The roots of The Jazz Crusaders touched its branches everywhere.. including pop, rock and soul. many collaborations such as Joe Sample with Bobby Hutcherson, or Lela Hathaway, or Wilton Felder with Letta Mbulu or soul-belter Bobby Womack, Wayne Henderson producing and writing for acts in all types of music. Stix was no stranger either, though not active with group much, He still penned hits for blues, pop and soul artists for last 3 decades.

This intimate concert in L.A.Westside’s Moss Theater was superb. we were treated to a cornucopia of musical treats from all points of the globe.. the only thing was, Stix refused to use the microphone, so we were not privy who all those wonderful musicians were. But they were very good . two guitarists, for starters.. one from an eastern European country, and the other  from South America . The acoustic pianist, Russian, while the electric keyboardist hailed from new Zealand.

The bass player was a “homie” from L.A., He even acknowledged a legendary drummer in attendance, Ndugu Chancler, as he looked on approvingly of the action on stage.

The trumpet and saxophonist were very good soloists. Sorry, the opportunity to identify band members did not happen as I anticipated. But I really enjoyed the show. so it was a win-win in my opinion. I will work harder next time to gather more information, since no one acted as spokesperson after concert.

We were whisked out of room , as the band had a meet-n-greet” and signing commitment backstage after the show.

I recommend you follow Stix Hooper via Facebook or his website, http://www.stixhooper.com

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