April 1997

The Jazz Crusaders
Louisiana Hot Sauce (Music for all Kitchens)

A cleverly-themed album marked by rootsy Bayou accents, the Jazz Crusaders' Louisiana Hot Sauce (Music for all Kitchens) can be a rollicking good time. Swirling concoctions like the dobro and slide guitar-spiced "Red Beans and Rice" are edgier than normal Crusaders' fare, tapping gleefully into the duo's roots. Trombonist Wayne Henderson in particular benefits from sweaty workouts on tracks like the zydeco-tinged "File Mystique," and wailing "Crawdaddy." Henderson's soulful trombone also serves as the album connector to concept-stretchers like "Sweet Praline (When You're So Far Away)," which is a pretty, typically Crusader-ish mid-tempo ballad (sung by Dionne Warwick), simply re-titled to fit the album's culinary New Orleans theme. Other tracks appear similarly out of context (though one could argue that the throaty soul vocals of Bobby Womack are enough of a tie-in for "Cool Brew Koffee (No Way Out of Loving You)"), but well-developed theme tracks like the outrageous, percussive stomp, "Catfish Mardi Gras," with its rolling drum and prickly guitar, are truly inspired. Henderson and partner Winton Felder would do well to continue exploring these well-matched swamp textures in subsequent releases.

Originally published in April 1997
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