Title: Children of the Sun
Artist: Joe Sample & NDR Bigband Orchestra
Label: PRA Records
Formats: CD, LP, MP3
Release date: January 6, 2015
Starting as a founding member of the Crusaders, pianist and composer Joe Sample went on to become a successful musician and record with many esteemed artists, from Miles Davis to the Supremes. Before his death this past September, Sample went to Hamburg, Germany with the NDR Bigband to record his final album, Children of the Sun. It was Sample’s first studio recording since his 2002 Grammy nominated Pecan Tree, and is a suite of original music that some have called his most ambitious project.
The album’s release before Black History Month is timely, as it coincides with UNESCO’s 20th Anniversary of the Slave Route Project: A Commitment to Reconciliation. Sample said his compositions were influenced by a performance at the St. Croix Jazz Festival. St. Croix was a major part of the middle passage for slavery in the 17th century, and the “juxtaposition of the beauty of the island, the brutality of the slavery, and the helplessness the slaves must have felt” intrigued and inspired Sample to write the music for Children of the Sun. It includes Sample’s characteristic blending of different genres with jazz, from blues to “gulf coast funk,” and is an album for jazz fans as well as contemporary classical audiences.
Reviewed by Anna Polovick