Bob James

Bob James

The career of Bob James is long, varied and continues to evolve at every turn. From his first days of piano recital in Marshall, Missouri to his own trio while at the University of Michigan to New York City and beyond, the music of Bob James has captivated audiences throughout the world.

After being discovered by Quincy Jones at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival in 1963, Bob recorded his first solo album, Bold Conceptions, for Mercury Records. 25 more solo albums would follow through four decades; that number is just to date and does not include his Grammy award winning collaboration projects! Although he was to record another trio album, Explosions, for ESP, it was really not until Bob met up with Creed Taylor in New York that his composing, arranging and recording career took off. After working on albums for CTI artists like Hank Crawford, Grover Washington, Jr. and many others, Bob finally recorded his own album, One. This introduced his music to a bigger audience and launched a lifelong career of recording and performing live. There were to be three more CTI albums before Bob moved to CBS in the 1970’s and began his own label, Tappan Zee Records. It was during this time that he recorded his own gold seller, Touchdown, which included his composition, “Angela (Theme from ‘Taxi’).” Bob composed all the original music used in that television series for its entire run. One On One, the first in three collaborations with Earl Klugh, was awarded a Grammy in 1980 and has sold over a million copies. A different aspect of the musical talent of Bob James was demonstrated on his three classical albums recorded for the CBS Masterworks division, the first of which was Rameau released in 1984.

In 1985 Bob moved to Warner Bros Records and began that association with another million seller and Grammy winner, Double Vision, his collaboration with David Sanborn, produced by Tommy LiPuma. It was in 1990 while recording his Grand Piano Canyon album that Bob reunited with his old friend, drummer Harvey Mason and worked for the first time with Lee Ritenour on guitar and Nathan East on bass. The sessions for this project was the genesis of the group, Fourplay. Their first album was recorded and released in 1991. They have gone on to record four more albums, with Larry Carlton taking over on guitar the in 1998 in time for album number and title, 4.

A personal and professional highlight was collaboration with his daughter, Hilary, on the Flesh & Blood album. They wrote together for this project and toured 15 U.S. cities in acoustic vocal and piano duet performances, Bob also did two more records with Earl Klugh and one with Kirk Whalum. His solo career continued into the 90’s with Restless, Playin’ Hooky and Joy Ride. Working with producers like Paul Brown, Marcel & Nathan East, Harvey Mason, Jr. and his own longtime producer, Michael Colina, Bob maintained his commitment to sophisticated production and arrangements while stretching out in different and new directions.

Dancing On the Water, released in 2001 was the fulfillment of a longtime dream. This CD includes duet performances by Bob with Keiko Matsui, Joe Sample, Dave Holland and Chuck Loeb. There are also four original solo piano pieces. It is an unusual and exciting project with the amazing performances all around. Bob
toured with this project in Japan with Keiko Matsui. They have called their show “Four Hands, One Piano” - an evening of just piano with them playing alone and together. The response was fantastic and the tour will continue here in the United States in March, starting in Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, then moving westward.

2002 saw the release of Fourplay’s first project for BMG, Heartfelt. The group toured for much of the year across the United States and the Far East. Also that year, Bob’s Morning, Noon & Night was released on Warner’s. Again, Paul Brown produced several of the tunes. The title track was a number one radio hit. Chuck Loeb and Ken Freeman, Bob’s engineer and longtime studio manager, co-produced several of the tracks as well.

While appearing at New York’s Blue Note, in February of 2003, Bob went into Hit Factory with Billy Kilson and James Genus, with Ken Freeman at the board, and recorded a trio album. The genesis for this project was Bob’s idea for a tribute to the pianists who inspired him. There are tunes here originally recorded by Ahmad Jamal, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson and others. It is another personal project for Bob. This CD, Take It From the Top, has been released in Japan and by Koch Entertainment in the United States.

Fourplay is now up to ten albums of its own, the last two, ‘Journey’ and ‘X’ both nominated for Grammys. The group tour extensively throughout 2006, in the States, Europe, South Africa and Asia.

The last Bob James CD, ‘Urban Flamingo,’ features his Detroit based band of Al Turner on bass, Ron Otis on drums, Perry Hughes and Wayne Gerard on guitars and David McMurray on sax. Detroit is home to all these musicians and the album was recorded there. The group toured in the fall of 2005 and spring of 2006 in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York, Florida, North Carolina & Michigan.

Bob was awarded the George Benson Lifetime Achievement Award at The Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards in Toronto on April 7, 2006.

In the past several years, Bob has spent many months in the Far East producing a new project, ‘Angels of Shanghai’ a true ‘east meets west’ project – five young musicians from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music playing ancient Chinese instruments together with James Genus and Nathan East on bass, Harvey Mason on drums and, of course, Bob James on keyboards. Initially released in both Korea and Japan, the musicians performed the debut live performance at the Bangkok Jazz Festival in December 2005, going on to tour of Korea and Japan. Koch Records releases the CD April 10, 2007 in the U.S. & Canada. The group will make its U.S. debut on April 28th, with a six city tour ending in New York on May 5th. Tappan Zee Records 12 Kent Street New City, New York 10956


1974 ONE (CTI)
1974 TWO (CTI)
1976 THREE (CTI)
1977 FOUR (CTI)
1977 HEADS (CBS)
1980 H (CBS)
1983 FOXIE (CBS)
1984 12 (CBS)
1984 THE SWAN (CBS/Sony)
1979 ONE ON ONE Bob James & Earl Klugh (CBS)
1981 TWO OF A KIND Earl Klugh & Bob James (Capitol)
1986 DOUBLE VISION Bob James & David Sanborn (Warner Bros.)
1986 OBSESSION (Warner Bros.)
1988 IVORY COAST (Warner Bros.)
1990 GRAND PIANO CANYON (Warner Bros.)
1991 FOURPLAY (Warner Bros.)
Group is Bob James, Lee Ritenour, Nathan East & Harvey Mason
1992 COOL Bob James & Earl Klugh (Warner Bros.)
1993 BETWEEN THE SHEETS - Fourplay (Warner Bros.)
1994 RESTLESS (Warner Bros.)
1995 FLESH & BLOOD w/ daughter Hilary (Warner Bros.)
1995 ELIXIR - Fourplay (Warner Bros.)
1996 STRAIGHT UP Bob James Trio (Warner Bros.)
1996 JOINED AT THE HIP Bob James + Kirk Whalum (Warner Bros.)
1997 THE BEST OF FOURPLAY (Warner Bros.)
1997 PLAYIN’ HOOKY (Warner Bros.)
1998 4 - Fourplay - (Warner Bros.)
Group is now Bob James, Harvey Mason, Nathan East & Larry Carlton
1999 JOY RIDE (Warner Bros.)
1999 SNOWBOUND - Fourplay (Warner Bros.)
2000 YES, PLEASE - Fourplay (Warner Bros.)
2001 DANCING ON THE WATER (Warner Bros.)
2001 RESTORATION - The Best of Bob James (Warner Bros. 2-CD set)
2002 HEARTFELT - Fourplay (Bluebird-RCA Victor)
2002 MORNING, NOON & NIGHT (Warner Bros.)
2003 BOB JAMES IN HI FI (Audio Fidelity)
2003 TAKE IT FROM THE TOP Bob James Trio
(JVC in Japan, 10.03) (Koch Records in U.S., 2.04)
2004 JOURNEY - Fourplay (Bluebird-RCA Victor)
2005 the essential collection – 24 smooth jazz classics
(Koch, 2-CD set)
2006 X- Fourplay (Bluebird-RCA Victor)
(released via Universal Korea, 11.05; VideoArts, Japan, 04.06,
and Koch Records, U.S. & Canada, 04.07)
1984 RAMEAU (CBS Masterworks)
1989 BACH: Concertos for Two & Three Keyboards
w/ Guher & Suher Pekinel (CBS Masterworks)

Updated June 2008


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