The Jazz Crusaders: Soul Axess

Trombonist Wayne Henderson leads a star-studded lineup on the Jazz Crusaders’ Soul Axess (True Life). Original Crusader Wilton Felder appears on three tracks and keyboardist Joe Sample doesn’t appear at all, so this is very much Henderson’s project. There’s a lot that’s enjoyable on this album, like the opener, a rousing cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed”-which features solos by saxophonist Everette Harp and guitarist Norman Brown-and the funky jam “Prodigal Son,” with its unexpected koto and sitar accents. Felder’s sax provides strong counterpoint to the soaring vocals on the gospel number “Down Yonder,” and Phillip Ingram turns in a soulful multitracked vocal performance on “Over the Rainbow.”

There are also weak moments, though: the vocal tune “Life in the City (Really Turns Me On)” and the hip-hop track “All That Jazz n Razz a Ma Tazz” are decent but unexceptional tunes, and the cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” feels interminable.