|Bob James — Espresso (Aug. 31, 2018)
Bob James — Espresso (Aug. 31, 2018)• „Připadalo mi, že je vhodný čas prozkoumat, co budu dělat,“ říká James ze svého domova v Minnesotě, daleko od hlavních hudebních měst v zemi. „Po mnoho let byla stěžejním dílem mého snu vystoupení v klasickém triu, kde je klavír prominentním nástrojem a ovládá hudbu. Při mnoha dalších projektech, kde jsem spolupracoval, jsem zjistil, jak moc se mi líbí být doprovodem.“ Kapela se letos vydá na turné po USA a Japonsku. V roce 2019 to bude možná ještě častěji. Po návratu do Fourplay to bude další faktor, jaký bude trio v příštím roce ovlivňovat. S jiným kytaristou [možná se vrátí Lee Ritenour, který to naznačil].
Ale James má rád styl života „on the road“, bez ohledu na situaci.
• „I like to get out there on the road and have that energy, and a little bit of danger, of a live performance.“ — Bob James.
• Keyboard player whose light, hook~laden pop instrumental sessions were often on the charts during the 1970s.
• Robert McElhiney “Bob” James
Born: December 25, 1939
Location: Marshall, Missouri, United States
Genre: Fusion, Jazz~Funk, Smooth Jazz
Album release: August 31, 2018
Recorded: December 1974 & January 1975, Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
Record Label: Evolution Music Group
01 Bulgogi 6:04
02 Shadow Dance 7:07
03 Ain’t Misbehavin’ 5:33
04 One Afternoon 3:33
05 Mister Magic 6:19
06 Topside 5:09
07 Il Boccalone 4:03
08 Mojito Ride 7:40
09 Promenade 4:15
10 Boss Lady 4:46
11 Submarine 4:28
℗© 2018 Evolution Ltd. under exclusive license from Tappan Zee Records
BY S. VICTOR AARON, AUGUST 25, 2018
• Which jazz pianist who recorded his first album in 1962 went on to have a significant influence on contemporary music in the decades to follow? If you answered ‘Herbie Hancock,’ you’d be correct. Same if you answered with ‘Bob James.’ And also like Hancock, James is still very much in the game.
• Espresso (August 31, 2018 from Evolution Music Group) is slated to be James’ first release as a leader since Urban Flamingo from 2006 (!) and a sort~of return to where he’d begun, leading a piano trio with some new originals and old covers as he did with Bold Conceptions. But while James is feeling nostalgic, there are limits to his nostalgia, else he wouldn’t have picked dynamic players like Billy Kilson (drums) and the young, up~and~coming Michael Palazzolo (acoustic bass) to fill out his latest trio.
• James has made some successful returns to his roots before (Straight Up and Take It From The Top) but he’s best known in the contemporary jazz arena, making a series of lite funk~jazz records in the mid~70s that were classics of the sub~genre and as one of the mainstays in the smooth jazz supergroup Fourplay since the early 90s. The Fourplay gig, various collaborative projects with David Sanborn and Nathan East and other musical endeavors have kept him plenty busy, and he didn’t really need to do this. But that was before being inspired to take another stab at leading a date following weeklong gig with Kilson and Palazzolo at New York’s Blue Note club last year.
• “Bulgogi” signals that James’ trio is a democratic one, though Kilson’s forceful performance nearly pulls off a coup. The pianist showcases his fluid, nuanced and feathery touch, and an economy of notes that serves him well on his bop~oriented solo spotlight.
• That said, James isn’t intent on pretending that JFK is president again. The first obvious sign of technological assistance comes on the second track “Shadow Dance,” where James’ piano is accompanied with light synth backing, but not enough to put off those averse to smooth jazz; focus instead on the moody melody that holds a lot more depth than anything merely ‘smooth.’ James’ composing skills have often been far more complex and thoughtful than he’s typically given credit for, and this is evidence he still has that ability. “Mojito Ride” is Exhibit Two.
• “One Afternoon” takes a break from the trio format to place James’ piano in front of orchestral backing; it’s way more classical than jazz and features Angela Scates’ oboe. Though back at the trio, “Promenade” shares much of that classical feel with “One Afternoon.”
• Some funk breaks out on the contemporary~minded “Topside,” even showcasing the pianist soloing a little on a synthesizer and electric piano, but Kilson’s high~hat groove makes this thing go. “Boss Lady” could have easily been one of the softer tunes of the album, but Palazzolo and Kilson simply refuse to let that happen, displaying muscularity that push this into being one of this collection’s strongest cuts.
• Only one traditional jazz cover appears, and that’s Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” James opts for a swinging, slightly frisky approach that doesn’t take a lot of chances but is nonetheless a pleasant listen.
• Two songs make a pretty convincing case for the enduring relevance of James’ work from many decades ago. His fingerprints were all over Grover Washington’s monster hit from 1975 “Mr. Magic” as conductor, arranger and Fender Rhodes captain. This contemporary version re~imagines Ralph McDonald’s and William Salter’s song by retaining the iconic vamp but with a new bass pattern. They also chop up the rhythmic pattern, which shows off the suppleness of the Kilson/Palazzolo unit over which James’ piano lightly prances. In place of Eric Gale’s unforgettable guitar solo, Palazzolo’s own aside acquits himself well.
• “Submarine” is an update on James’ classic 1974 funk~jazz hip~hop fodder “Nautilus,” and appropriately, it’s the track that’s most like his 70s music. But in an ironic twist, as hip~hop artists incorporated “Nautilus” into their music, James returns the favor by assimilating many of the sounds of hip~hop into “Submarine” and does so while retaining his character. Which leads one to conclude that in some inadvertent way, he was a forbear forty~five years ago to one of the most popular forms of music today.
• Espresso doesn’t always stick to the script of being an acoustic, piano/bass/drums trio playing straight ahead jazz, but in the so~called war between the traditionalist and fusionistas/progressives in jazz, Bob James never really chose a side. His best music comes when he grounds himself firmly in both camps, as he does here. • http://somethingelsereviews.com/
• 1974 One
• 1975 Two
• 1976 Three
• 1977 BJ4
• 1977 Heads
• 1978 Touchdown
• 1979 Lucky Seven
• 1980 H
• 1981 All Around the Town
• 1981 Sign of the Times
• 1982 Hands Down
• 1983 Foxie
• 1983 Taxi — The Genie
• 1984 12
• 1984 The Swan
• 1986 Obsession
• 1988 Ivory Coast
• 1990 Grand Piano Canyon
• 1994 Restless
• 1997 Playin’ Hooky
• 1999 Joy Ride
• 2001 Anthology
• 2001 Dancing on the Water
• 2001 Restoration
• 2002 Morning, Noon & Night
• 2002 The Essential Collection 24 Smooth Jazz Classics
• 2003 Bob James in Hi Fi
• 2004 Take It From The Top
• 2005 Urban Flamingo
• 2009 The Very Best of Bob James
• 2013 Rhodes Scholar: Jazz~Funk Classics 1974~1982
• 2018 Espresso
R.J. DELUKE/September 3, 2018: https://www.allaboutjazz.com/bob-james-piano-player-bob-james-by-rj-deluke.php?pg=1
|Bob James — Espresso (Aug. 31, 2018)