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).
One of the first releases on the resurrected Okeh Records imprint, 2013's Quartette Humaine features pianist Bob James and saxophonist David Sanborn performing a set of mostly original songs that walk the line between funky contemporary jazz and more thoughtful post-bop. It’s also the first collaboration between the two giants of contemporary jazz since their 1986 Grammy Award-winning album Double Vision. However, rather than revisit that album's funk and smooth jazz leanings, here James and Sanborn summon the spirit of the legendary Dave Brubeck quartet featuring saxophonist Paul Desmond. While they don’t play any Brubeck songs, the album was recorded with Brubeck's adventurous, often challenging acoustic jazz spirit in mind.
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.
"I titled this album Present Tense because it captures where I am right now," says Carter, who plays a trinity of saxophones (soprano, tenor and baritone), flute and bass clarinet. "This is what appeals to me right now. I've always had eclectic tastes, so the styles of these pieces are diverse. But I'm also dealing with more lyricism on this album, and I'm making more concise statements in the music versus playing out for 10 or 11 minutes. Some of the tunes here are in the four-minute range."