Back in 1978 when this set was recorded, fusion (the mixture of jazz improvisation with rock rhythms) was declining. Keyboardist Joe Sample, best-known for his work with the Crusaders, was in the process of being one of the founders of "contemporary jazz," an idiom that has since solidified into smooth jazz. Sample emphasized catchy melodies, light funk rhythms, appealing chord changes and a pop sensibility. For this accessible release, Sample is joined by the late legendary guitarist Billy Rogers, bassist Pops Popwell, his old Crusaders drummer Stix Hooper, a horn section and several guest guitarists. All eight tunes (which include "Fly with the Wings of Love" and "Islands in the Rain") are by the leader, who is heard throughout in melodic form, setting up a variety of light grooves that serve as superior background music. ~ Scott Yanow
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