AMERICAN pianist Joe Sample is looking forward to playing Birmingham Symphony Hall next week - if only because, as he puts it, "I know it will have a good piano".
During his 50-year-plus musical career starting in his native Houston, Texas, he says he has had to put up with some "stinkers", instruments so ropy they couldn't be tuned to sound even half-decent.
"I guess that's because of the type of joints where I played in earlier days", he told me on the telephone from Zurich, where he was giving a concert during a European tour with singer Randy Crawford.
"Now I'm older and getting better gigs, I'm able to play proper pianos. It's great."
Randy and Joe, now aged 69 and famous for his work with the Crusaders, start a short UK tour in Birmingham.
They first met more than 30 years ago when Joe played piano on one of her record dates. Later he wrote Street Life for Randy to sing with the Crusaders and has penned other hits such as Someday I'll Fly Away and When Your Life Was Low.
The pair have just recorded a second album together, No regrets (Wrasse Records), containing 12 classic soulful jazz and rhythm and blues numbers.
For the Symphony Hall concert, at 7.30pm on November 28, Joe will lead a trio with his son Nik on bass and Steve Gadd on drums.
Tickets cost £26.50 and £28.50. Box Office: 0121 l Double act: Randy Crawford and Joe Sample