Wilton Felder R.I.P.

Texas-born saxophonist and bassist Wilton Felder formed The Crusaders together with Joe Sample and Stix Hooper. Together, they became one of the most revered jazz fusion groups of the 60s and 70s, with several major international hits, like the immortal “Street Life” (1979).

Wilton Felder
“Gentle Fire”, the 1983 LP by Wilton Felder on MCA. Produced with Joe Sample.

But Wilton was also a sought-after studio musician and played on hundreds of recordings, from The Jackson 5 to Marvin Gaye, from Billy Joel to Michael Franks. He is also featured on three works of Joni Mitchell from the 70s and also worked as a solo artist. His soulful, bluesy tone was often compared to that of Grover Washington, Jr. Wilton worked with the Crusaders until the late 80s and formed a reunion with Wayne Henderson in the 90s.

Wilton also released several solo albums in his career, most notably the great “Inherit The Wind” in 1980 and “Secrets” in 1985 which featured Bobby Womack on the hit “(No Matter How High I Get) I’ll Still Be Looking Up To You” with singer Alltrinna Grayson.

His “Gentle Fire” LP from 1983 featured A Taste Of Honey on lead vocals on the title track and a stellar cast of musicians, from Dean Parks and Paul Jackson, Jr. on guitar to Bobby Lyle and Bill Mays on keyboards.

Wilton Felder died yesterday at the age of 75.

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