Joe Sample returns to the smooth jazz style of his popular albums Rainbow Seeker, Carmel, and Voices in the Rain on 1983's The Hunter. The keyboardist fills up a studio with like-minded session musicians including trumpeter Tom Browne, horn players Chuck Findley, Jerry Hey, and Ernie Watts, guitarists Dean Parks, David Spinozza, and Phil Upchurch, bassists Abraham Laboriel and Marcus Miller, percussionist Paulinho Da Costa, and drummer Steve Gadd, and sets them loose on some rhythmic tracks with a rock/R&B feel. The beat is paramount, a constant augmented by funky, popping basslines, with guitar solos and horn charts overlaid. And, weaving in and out is Sample, on either acoustic or electric piano, finding room to solo extensively. The solos are more of the rock variety than what a conventional jazz fan would recognize, since they are anchored to the relentless beats. But Sample is one of the more accomplished players in smooth jazz, and his sidemen are able to support him and, when given the chance, match him in their playing. ~ William Ruhlmann
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