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May 2006

Nils Landgren and Joe Sample
Creole Love Call
ACT Music + Vision

Scandinavian trombonist Nils Landgren has made a name for himself with his band, Funk Unit, but puts out the occasional pop/R&B vocal record too. This encounter with keyboardist Joe Sample (Landgren is a long-time Crusaders fan) falls into the latter category. On this tribute to New Orleans, Landgren hardly puts his horn to his lips but spends plenty of time singing.

And about that voice—it isn’t particularly expressive or flexible, but he doesn’t try to do too much with it, and it has a certain amateurish charm if you give it some time. Likewise, Sample and the band play it tight and tasteful, even when the material occasionally veers in to the cheesy (as it does on an overproduced run at Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With”). Landgren clearly brought a lot of his own enthusiasm to the project, and that carries the music a long way.

As a side note, that rhythm guitarist dutifully chording away in the background may not sound immediately familiar, but that’s Ray Parker Jr,. whom Landgren unearthed for this session. Sadly, the band declined to wax the Ghostbusters theme. Maybe next time around? Is that too much to ask?

Originally published in May 2006
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