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Joe Sample dies at 75; influential jazz-funk pianist
Joe Sample dies at 75; influential jazz-funk pianist

Influential keyboardist Joe Sample, who helped push the boundaries of jazz and funk as a member of the Jazz Crusaders, died Friday in Houston. He was 75. Sample's career with the Jazz Crusaders began as a hard bop group in Texas in the late '50s before the group migrated to the West Coast, releasing a string of hit albums that began in 1961 with "Freedom Sound." Teamed with saxophonist Wilton Felder, drummer Nesbert "Stix" Hooper and trombonist Wayne Henderson (who died this year), Sample helped lead the group toward mainstream success with a blend of jazz, funk and R&B, a sound that eventually led to the group dropping  "jazz" from their...

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