Wilton Felder is well known to jazz fans as the saxophonist and composer who spent some thirty years playing, along with Joe Sample, Stix Hooper, and Wayne Henderson in the phenomenally successful Crusaders. The group’s combination of jazz, soul, r&b, and gospel influences created a sound that was rooted in jazz, but which was accessible to listeners raised on pop and rock music.
Unlike many fusion bands, The Crusaders never lost their blues and soul roots, which was one key to their success. Another was the fact that each musician had a definite style on their instrument, and it was a pleasure to listen to each of them play. Felder’s deep, sonorous tenor sound is rooted in the Texas tenor sax tradition, and it is very easy to listen to, largely because it retains an element of soul grit and refuses to be too pretty, even when the surroundings are very smooth