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Bob James Trio with Randy Brecker at the Blue Note

by on Sep.02, 2017, under News, Press &Reviews

Bob James By TYRAN GRILLO
August 21, 2017
Bob James Trio with Randy Brecker
Blue Note
New York, NY
August 16, 2017

 

As part of a week-long residency at the Blue Note, legendary keyboardist-composer Bob James broke sonic bread with up-and-coming bassist Michael Palazzolo and faithful drummer Billy Kilson. The result of this communion was a head-nodding dive into one of jazz’s most hallowed oeuvres. As was clear throughout this performance, central to the bandleader’s commercial success—not counting the many times his music has been thrown into the genre blender of hip-hop—is his ability to forge bone-deep melodies and shine them through the lenses of simpatico musicians who care about everything they interpret.

The first three tunes of their second set put theory into practice, and then some. Two pianistic originals, “Avalabop” and “Night Crawler,” sandwiched the Fender Rhodes romance of “Feel Like Making Love.” Whether jumping headfirst into jaunty grooves or turning the lights down low, James approached even his best-known motifs with sheer enjoyment. Despite the distance of these classic tunes, he brought them to an immediate and intimate level of exchange that allowed freshness to flourish.

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Bob James’ Blue Note NYC Show a Mastery of Improvisation

by on Aug.26, 2017, under News, Press &Reviews

Bob James

Bob James, an American original wrapped up a six nights gig at the Blue Note Jazz Club, New York City (August 15-20, 2017); and like Thelonious Monk, found ways of rummaging amongst his limitations and came up with a highly personal perspective in musical improvisation. (Photo by John R. Williams)

By Danny R. Johnson – Jazz and Pop Music Critic

BLUE NOTE CLUB – NEW YORK CITY – Bob James, the extraordinary jazz pianist, composer, and music producer, wrapped up a busy week at the Blue Note-New York City, from August 15-20, 2017, with special guest performers Randy Brecker (Trumpeter/Flugelhornist), Michael Palazzolo (Acoustic Bass), and Billy Kilson (Drums) sharing as headliners. The 10:30 p.m., August 20 show featured an enthralling 90-minutes cool jazz session with bassist Palazzolo and drummer Kilson.

It should be noted that Kilson has played with Ahmad Jamal (1989), Dianne Reeves (1989–95), Greg Osby (1991), George Duke (1991–98), Steps Ahead (1993), Tim Hagans (1993 and subsequently), Terumasa Hino (1994–98), Bob James (1995 and subsequently), Dave Holland (since 1997), Bob Belden (1997) and Kevin Mahogany (1998). Other associations include Kirk Whalum, Freddie Jackson, Chris Botti, Donald Brown and Paula Cole.

If James had one single mission, it was to stir the greatest possible emotion through the most advanced harmonic movement. From the onset of one of the eight selections performed that evening, the sold-out Blue Note Club patrons were caught in the sheer ecstasy of the Bob James phenomenon. The bass line, from the opening moment, reflected a mirrored image of the melody, at times staggering the rhythm of the theme mostly tracking it note-for-note. On the last phrase of the first verse of one piece, James hits a pedal tone, one of his favorite anchoring devices after a harmonic exploration, but then dissolves it into a transition into another key, where an even more probing examination of the song’s harmonic and rhythmic implications begins. As the beauty of the sound stirred the heart, the symmetry of the internal movement, with the notes in one chord each leading to those in the next, touched the intellect. Here, in first blossom, is the genius of James.

Throughout the entire evening, what the audience was witnessing was anything but remarkable and tantalizing. All of the selections captured the pianist in his earliest stages of development and transformation. The trio sticks to the conventions of the time by keeping the pulse steady and responding only minimally to cues from James; by the same token, during bass and drummer solos, James withdrew, playing occasional fills rather than interacting with the improvisation.

When Kilson took the spotlight, both James and Palazzolo stop playing altogether, in the old swing tradition of unaccompanied drum solos.

Two-time Grammy Award winning James had his musical roots honed from his humble beginnings in Marshal, Missouri. The minute he was discovered by Quincy Jones at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival in 1963, James recorded his first solo album, “Bold Conceptions,” that year for Mercury Records and never looked back. 58 albums and numerous of awards followed for the next five decades, and this cat ain’t letting up yet!

As demonstrated at the Blue Note, James displayed enormous versatility of musical idioms such as jazz, the Blues, R&B, and classical. James is known to have developed a unique relationship in finding common ground between classical music and jazz, conducted as part of his release of “J. S. Bach: Concertos for 2 & 3 Keyboards (1989).”

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fOURPLAY’s Chuck Loeb sets sights on the Grammys

by on Feb.01, 2017, under Event, News, Press &Reviews

Chuck Loeb - UnspokenThe fOURPLAY Family would like to wish our Chuck Loeb the very best for his Grammy Nomination for the Best Contemporary Instrumental Album of the Year!

Check out the Grammy’s on February 12 on CBS.

Go get ’em Chuck!

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fOURPLAY’s “Silverado” is Billboard’s Song of the Year!

by on Dec.31, 2016, under News, Press &Reviews

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Nathan East set for Grammy telecast encore

by on Feb.14, 2016, under News, Press &Reviews

Nathan_East_1_Photo_by_Toshio_Sakurai_Nathan East will be unable to perform at the 58th annual Grammy Awards telecast Monday night because he will be performing at the 58th annual Grammy Awards telecast Monday night.

If that sounds like a musical paradox, well, that’s par for the course for this veteran bassist, arranger, singer and producer. Over the past four decades, he’s played on hundreds of albums by some of the biggest names in pop, rock, R&B, jazz, country, blues, gospel, EDM and more. He’s also performed several times on both the Grammy and Oscars telecasts.

In early January, East committed to perform during the 31/2 -hour Grammy telecast with Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, John Legend, Demi Lovato and Meghan Trainor as part of a salute to Richie. In late January, East was invited to perform with Lady Gaga and Nile Rodgers during their Grammy tribute to the recently deceased David Bowie.

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Nathan East Describes What It’s Like to Perform at the White House

by on Jan.09, 2016, under News, Press &Reviews

Nathan_East_2_Photo_by_Toshio_Sakurai_

We’ve talked with bassist Nathan East about his performances on many big hits, including “Easy Lover,” “Get Lucky,” “Change the World” and “Footloose.” Aside from his recording career, his tenure with artists like Eric Clapton and his esteem as one of the most in-demand session bass players has put him in many unique situations, including several performances at the White House.

His most recent appearances at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue resulted in a pair of specials for PBS: The Gospel Tradition aired earlier this year, and featured East backing up Shirley Caesar, Darlene Love, Michelle Williams, Lyle Lovett and Aretha Franklin, and ‘A Celebration of American Creativity,’ which airs this Friday and features East playing alongside Smokey Robinson, Usher, James Taylor, Queen Latifah and more.

We talked to East about the thrill of playing for the president, the time he played with a president, and the other heads of state who have heard him play.

AllMusic: How overwhelming is it to perform at the White House?

Nathan East: It’s pretty exciting. Everything it takes to get in there, too, you’re constantly pulling out your ID, then you have to go through one thing at the street, one thing outside the White House, another thing inside with metal detectors and screenings, and then once you’re in there, it’s pretty exciting.

Continue reading the interview at AllMusic.com

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Nathan East, Fourplay celebrate 25 years

by on Jan.09, 2016, under News, Press &Reviews

Fourplay FB
A quarter of a century is a rather remarkable period of time for a jazz ensemble to stay together.

We’re happy to report that the celebrated jazz quartet, Fourplay, reached just that milestone this year and are celebrating the happy occasion with a new album called Silver.

The supergroup began its journey in 1990, when keyboardist Bob James asked drummer Harvey Mason, bassist Nathan East, and guitarist Lee Ritenour to collaborate with him on the recording of his album Grand Piano Canyon. They released their self-titled debut in 1991. Since then, they’ve released more than ten albums, received a Grammy nomination and had several number one hits on Billboard‘s contemporary jazz chart.

Continue Reading at FOR BASS PLAYERS ONLY…

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5 Questions with fOURPLAY

by on Dec.28, 2015, under News, Press &Reviews

Fourplay FBWe Asked Fourplay 5 Questions About Their ‘Silver Album’ Recorded At Sunset Sound

It’s hard to come up with a more evocative sound than a Fourplay song – the flowing funk undertones of drummer Harvey Mason and bassist Nathan East, and the wonderful keyboard work of Bob James support the memorable themes they have created for over 25 years. Their newest guitarist Chuck Loeb is joined by Fourplay alumni and Jazz guitar icons Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour on Silver, the newest album from this seminal group.

Composer, producer and keyboardist Bob James is well known for writing such evocative themes as “Angela”, a song so singular that it can serve as the theme of a sitcom as well as the backing track to the newest Cee Lo song. The Fourplay member/founder sat down with us in this edition of Deezer Five Questions:

Continue reading at DEEZER…

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THE NEW COOL…Cool enough for the Grammys

by on Dec.17, 2015, under News, Press &Reviews

The New Cool

Bob James and Nathan East have been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Arrangement, Instrumental/A-Cappella category, for “Ghost of a Chance”, from  the album “THE NEW COOL”, at the 2016 Grammy Awards.

James and East teamed up for this project, each bringing their own previous Grammy experience to create something special.  James, prior winner of two Grammys, also wrote the theme song to the hit television series “Taxi”.  East is hot off of his own Grammy nomination for his first ever solo record, 2014’s “NATHAN EAST”, and a Grammy Record of the Year win for laying down the bass on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”.

Check out the Grammy nominations releases from the L.A. Times, E-Online, Perez Hilton, the Kansas City Star, the San Diego Union Tribune, and NBC-San Diego!

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fOURPLAY at 25

by on Dec.12, 2015, under News, Press &Reviews

Fourplay 4 Square-SilverWhen discussing straight-ahead jazz, Miles Davis’ quintet (1965-1968) of Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams comes to mind. If West Coast cool jazz becomes a matter of discourse, let’s talk Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond. Fast-forward to the 1970s, when smooth jazz sailed over the airways into bars and music halls, then we are talking about the pianist, arranger and composer Bob James.

In 1990, having already earned recognition as a marquee headliner and producer James joined forces with an elite group of musicians to form Fourplay, the only smooth jazz group worth discussing. Fourplay is a stellar group of musicians who became household names within the smooth jazz arena while playing in a variety of genre configurations. They are: the drummer Harvey Mason (Herbie Hancock, Barbra Streisand and Notorious BIG), the bassist-vocalist Nathan East (Barry White, Eric Clapton, Toto and Phil Collins) and guitarist Chuck Loeb for the last five years (Hubert Laws, Chico Hamilton, Stan Getz and Joe Farrell) following guitarist Lee Ritenour’s exit in the mid-1990s.

James is best known for his classics “Westchester Lady” (off the album “Three,” CBS Records) and “Angela,” the 1978 theme from the TV sitcom “Taxi.” Individually they are vibrant musicians who have influenced generations of young artists. Together as Fourplay they have turned the genre of smooth jazz into their own kettle of home-brewed gumbo whose spiced ingredients include pop, funk and jazz.

Their recent 25th anniversary celebration at the West Village’s Blue Note jazz club was an intensified fusion of improvisation. Such a term is rarely used to describe a smooth or contemporary jazz group, but these aren’t your regular type of smooth cats, this is Fourplay, the leaders of the pack.

CONTINUE READING AT AMSTERDAMNEWS.COM

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