Bob JamesBob (*1939) was born in Marshall, Missouri. He started playing the piano at age four and began piano lessons at age seven. Apart from the piano, James learned to play trumpet, timpani, and percussion. Later, he attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.
His first music jobs included being a member of the Earle Parsons Dance Band, and the Bob Falkenhainer Quartet. While in college at Michigan, James played free jazz with musicians in Ann Arbor and Detroit. In 1962, his band entered the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival, where the judges included Henry Mancini and Quincy Jones. After James's band won the competition, Jones signed James to an album deal with Mercury Records. Mercury released James's first album, Bold Conceptions (1963), a free jazz exploration that was produced by Quincy Jones and that differed from the smooth jazz for which he would later become known.
In New York City, James worked as an arranger and was hired as piano accompanist for jazz singer Sarah Vaughan. He reunited with Quincy Jones when Jones asked him to do some arranging for studio sessions. Creed Taylor, producer and founder of CTI Records, was at the sessions and hired James to work for CTI as a producer, arranger, and studio musician. In the 1970s, James worked on albums by Gábor Szabó, Milt Jackson, Stanley Turrentine, Grover Washington jr, and Maynard Ferguson.
After three solo albums produced by CTI, he founded his own label, Tappan Zee. In 1984, he turned from smooth jazz to baroque music, and made recordings with the compositions of Jean-Philippe Rameau, Johann-Sebastian Bach, and Domenico Scarlatti.
A year after this baroque episode, he collaborated with David Sanborn. His collaboration with Earl Klugh, One on One, won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1980. Another collaboration with Klugh, Cool, was nominated for a Grammy, as was Joined at the Hip with Kirk Whalum, recorded Flesh and Bone in 1995 and another solo album, Joyride.
James was looking for a bass player while recording the album Grand Piano Canyon with drummer Harvey Mason and guitarist Lee Ritenour. Mason and Ritenour suggested Nathan East. After working with them for a while, James suggested they form a band, which resulted in the contemporary jazz quartet Fourplay. The band has recorded over ten albums and has seen a couple of personnel changes, with guitarist Larry Carlton replacing Ritenour and then Chuck Loeb replacing Carlton. Fourplay celebrated its 25th anniversary with the album Silver.
James's music, especially his early albums, has been sampled often, with his songs "Nautilus" and "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" leading the field.
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CTI Records CTX 6031/32
recorded april/may 1973 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ/USA
Don Sebesky, accordion, clavinet, piano, organ, vocals, conductor
Grover Washington jr, soprano sax, alto sax
Paul Desmond, alto sax
Walt Levinsky, clarinet. tenor sax
Freddie Hubbard, flugelhorn
George Marge, flute, clarinet, soprano sax, baritone sax, oboe, English horn
Jerry Dodgion, flute, piccolo flute, clarinet, soprano sax
Phil Bodner, flute, piccolo flute, clarinet, soprano sax, baritone sax, oboe, English horn
Romeo Penque, flute, piccolo flute, clarinet, soprano sax, baritone sax, oboe, English horn
Hubert Laws, flute, soprano sax
Earl Chapin, French horn
Jim Buffington, French horn
Alan Raph, bass trombone, euphonium
Paul Faulise, bass trombone, euphonium
Joe Farrell, soprano sax
Garnett Brown, trombone
Warren Covington, trombone, euphonium
Wayne Andre, trombone, euphonium
Freddie Hubbard, trumpet
Alan Rubin, trumpet, flugelhorn
Joe Shepley, trumpet, flugelhorn
Randy Brecker, trumpet, flugelhorn
Tony Price, tuba
George Benson, guitar
Harry Leahey, guitar
Margaret Ross, harp
Milt Jackson, vibes
Bob James, organ, piano
Ron Carter, bass
Homer Mensch, bass
Dave Friedman, percussion
Phil Kraus, percussion
Ralph MacDonald, percussion
Rubens Bassini, congas
Billy Cobham, drums
Jack DeJohnette, drums
Jackie Cain, vocals
Roy Kral, vocals
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