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The Crusaders may be gone, but the man behind the band's beat soldiers on.

Nesbert "Stix" Hooper, co-founder and the only surviving member of the original lineup of the seminal jazz and R&B band, is dropping his latest album “Orchestrally Speaking” on Thursday.

“This new recording features a group of international musicians, reflecting the universal appeal and global influence of music,” said Hooper of the release in a statement which also noted that it features seven tracks bridging a variety of genres from jazz to classical and Latin rhythms.

The artist, who received numerous Grammy nominations for his work with the Crusaders, gathered an all-star group of international musicians to join him, including American flautist Hubert Laws, Russian pianist Eugene Maslov, Swedish guitarist Andreas Oberg and late Brazilian guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves.

Revisiting many of his own original compositions in the process of exploring the orchestral genre results in a record that reflects both the evolution and culmination of the full musical spectrum of Hooper’s career.

“Free of cultural, ethnic, and racial boundaries, it celebrates the artistic camaraderie and integrity that results when kindred artistic spirits share a common bond of personal expression. I’m very excited about it,” said Hooper of the resulting album.
Ueli FreyCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Hooper began his career in 1950's Texas when he along with fellow Houston natives Joe Sample (piano) and Wilton Felder (tenor saxophone) founded the jazz and R&B group the Swingsters in 1954.

After a few lineup changes and moving to a jazzier sound, the trio moved to Los Angeles and formed the Jazz Crusaders, along with trombonist Wayne Henderson who had also played with them in their original group. Working with a succession of different bass players to form a quintet, the group went on to have critical and billboard success in the ’60s and ’70s

The peak of their popularity came in the late 70s when the band, now simply known as the Crusaders, released 1979's “Street Life.” The album was the No. 1 jazz album on Billboard’s charts and reached No. 3 and No. 18 on the R&B and pop charts, respectively.

While the title track, which featured Randy Crawford as the featured singer, was a Top 40 single (No. 36). It was also an international hit taking the No. 5 spot on the UK Singles Chart.

A faster-paced cover of the arrangement (see the original video below) done by Doc Severinsen in collaboration with Crawford was used in multiple films, including Quentin Tarantino's “Jackie Brown,” released in 1997.

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