Instrumental masterpiece, even without Wayne Henderson
J. Levinson | Media, PA USA | 01/30/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Despite the departure of the talented trombonist Wayne Henderson, the remaining Crusaders (Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, Stix Hooper, Pops Popwell and Larry Carlton) make strong compositional and instrumental contributions that make this the strongest and most consistent set of tunes this jazz-funk coalition ever recorded. A groovin' smooth jazz masterpiece!Wilton Felder - Saxophone
Joe Sample - Keyboards
Stix Hooper - Percussion, Drums
Robert "Pops" Popewell - Bass
Larry Carlton - Guitar
Arthur Adams - Guitar
Ralph MacDonald - Percussion
Ronald Bautista - Guitar
Paulinho Da Costa - Percussion
Dean Parks - Guitar"
An Awesome, Fun Work....
jesusisalive | Union City, CA United States | 04/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Free As The Wind" is one of my favorite Crusaders works right alongside their incomparables -- "Scratch", "Those Southern Knights" and "Southern Comfort" The Crusaders were my introduction to jazz years ago, and since then the track "Nite Crawler" from "Free As The Wind" has been my single favorite song by any artist or group. Wilton Felder's sax on "Nite Crawler" stayed in my mind for years when I wasn't buying or listening to jazz or much other music at all. It's simple, yet profound. I recently started buying music again...and the first work I bought was "Free As The Wind". It still sounds as good to me today as it did back when I first heard it.The tracks are beautiful, tight, clean. It has an easy feel to it, like the group is not pushing it, just playing. It introduces some new musical concepts but focuses on using existing classic ideas and techniques of that day in new, innovative ways that are often subtle. That's why it may seem to some listeners not to be as envelope-pushing as their other works. It does push the envelope, but in a different direction. Yet it has that unmistakable soul, funk and of course jazz mix that are the Crusaders' immortal trademark."Free As The Wind" is a fun album. It makes jazz fun in a way few other works anywhere do. That is its genius. The real appeal of Jazz is more than technical preciseness. Jazz has a heart, and this album has a heart - and a heart-felt humility, honesty and sincerity, a down-to-earth quality that warms the soul in a way that is simply inexpressible in purely technical terms. As a final note, any musician who thinks this work falls short should try playing these pieces themselves - with the same ease, fluency and precision that the Crusaders do. With this work "Free As The Wind" the Crusaders make jazz simple to understand and accessible to even the ordinary listener, but they do it with a level of subtlety and skill - and fun - that even the very best today can seldom match.(NB: As much as I love their music -- and I do, they've been my favorite group for decades and still are -- for my personal taste "Chain Reaction" is a bit too steeped in 1970s electronic wah-wahs and other special effects that that are a bit much for me and make it sound really dated, unless you like pure period pieces. I'd personally recommend "Free As The Wind" over "Chain Reaction" but it's a matter of personal taste)."
Andre S. Grindle | Brewer Maine | 10/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Crusaders are a band you just can't go wrong with during this era and this album is no different.The funky beat just doesn't give out on this record until just about the end.The jazzy 'It Happens Everyday" is a gentler showcase for Joe Sample's piano and it is the smoothest thing you'll hear on this album.
'Free As The Wind' is dominated by the hefty jazz funk that these guys do so well-for a genre not noted for great collective musicianship (by some CRITICS anyway) The Crusaders always have that under wrapes.But spaces for solo's such as on the speedy "Sweet 'N Sour" gives Larry Carlton a chance to shine and solo while the highly memorable "Night Crawler" gives Wilton Felder the same chance."Feel It" is my favorite on the record-like everything here it grooves and grooves HARD but it has an unusually hard funkiness that I appreciate.The title cut is the most arranged tune here but still-nothing to scoff at.
Even by the most obviously hard core of snobbish jazz critics and journelists,most of whom are quick to condemn jazz musicians for making funky music give 'Free As Wind' a five star review,same as most of The Crusaders catalog.That may be because,as stated earlier The Crusaders were one of a unique group of jazz-funk artists (aside from The Blackbyrds perhaps) who kept a sence of collective soul-jazz improvisation and superb musical chemistry while also playing highly electric funk.And no critic I have heard of could possibly scoff at that and these guy's memorable compositions!I can't,can you?"