Bob James was putting the "smooth" into "jazz" long before it was an official format, and as an elder statesman, the keyboardist continues to be one of the most consistent slow groove crowd-pleasers around. But some of the most inspired moments of his career have come from key collaborations with peers from his generation like David Sanborn and Earl Klugh. While never straying far from the melodic, pleasant sort of cool he's best known for, on Playin' Hooky, James duets on various tunes with some of the new kids on the charts, from classical guitarist Fareed Haque to trumpeter Rick Braun and the increasingly ubiquitous saxman Boney James (no relation).
My daughter Hilary & I poured our heart & soul into this project. We tried to create a similar atmosphere that we experience in our home during the holiday season. These are our interpretations of both traditional carols and contemporary songs. The highlight for me is the title song composed by Hilary & her husband Kevin DiSimone. We're very confident that this CD will be a perfect way to help you celebrate the holidays. Seasons greetings! ~ Bob James
Bob James, who for many years has gained fame and fortune for his commercial pop/jazz crossover sets, on this set returns to his roots in straight-ahead jazz. James is showcased in a trio with bassist James Genus and drummer Billy Kilson, paying tribute to some of his favorite pianists. James' interpretations of nine standards are not necessarily in the style of the pianists, but there are moments when he consciously quotes one of their phrases, including putting a phrase from "Mona Lisa" in "Straighten Up and Fly Right" for Nat King Cole. Along the way he also pays homage to Red Garland, Glenn Gould (the classical pianist liked "Downtown" ), Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal, Erroll Garner (his version of "Caravan" ), Mal Waldron, and John Lewis. It is to Bob James' credit that he still sounds so natural playing this bop-oriented music; this is one of the most rewarding playing dates of his recording career.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Pianist Masabumi Kikuchi leads the set, but the group's a very equally-balanced trio that features wonderful work from James Genus on bass and Victor Jones on drums – both players who shape the sound every bit as strongly as the piano! In fact, if you were to hear the record without the cover, you might even think Genus is the leader at times – given the way his rich, deep lines begin some of the cuts – and give a grounding to the record that allows Kikuchi to create these little constellations in sound with his deft lines on the piano – archly modern, yet deeply soulful at the same time – and almost "sparked" into greater flames by Jones' drums. A really special sort of trio date – one that's way more than just the sum of its parts – on titles that include "Free Stroll", "Zig Zag", "Pain Killer", "Up Beat Blues", "20th Street Shuffle", and "Little Treat".