Bob James and David Sanborn
@ the Barbican Centre
16 November 2013
Click an image to enlarge.
A BIG thank you to David Sanborn, Bob James
& Steve Gadd for their patience and professionalism with regards
to photographing them during their soundcheck and main show!
Bob James biography
The career of Bob James is long, varied and continues
to evolve at every turn. From his first days in Marshall, Missouri,
the music of Bob James has captivated audiences throughout the world.
Discovered by Quincy Jones at the Notre Dame Jazz
Festival in 1963, James recorded his first solo album, “Bold
Conceptions,” that year for Mercury Records. 58 albums and
innumerable awards would follow through five decades. He honed his
skills working with Creed Taylor, working on albums for artists
like Hank Crawford, Grover Washington, Jr, among others. While with
CTI, James found great popular success overseeing significant hits
for Paul Simon, Neil Diamond, Maynard Ferguson, and Kenny Loggins.
In 1974, James finally recorded his own album,
“One,” which launched a lifelong career of recording
and performing live. After three more albums, James began his own
label, Tappan Zee Records. This allowed James to spend more time
in the studio, focusing on his own creative works. It was during
this time that he recorded his own gold seller, “Touchdown,”
which included his composition, “Angela”, the instrumental
theme from the sitcom ‘Taxi’, and possibly James’
best know work. 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 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, and has sold
over a million copies. During this time, James set the standard
for the smooth jazz sound in the late 1970s.
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, and followed by ‘The Scarlatti Dialogues’ &
Bach keyboard concertos with the Pekinel Sisters.
In 1985 James moved to Warner Bros Records, and
kicked things off with “Double Vision,” a collaboration
with David Sanborn, and produced by Tommy LiPuma. “Double
Vision” was another Grammy winner, selling over a million
While recording his album, “Grand Piano Canyon,”
in 1990, James reunited with longtime friend, drummer Harvey Mason,
Jr. It would also be the first time James would work with guitarist
Lee Ritenour, and bassist Nathan East. This would be the start of
something beautiful, as these early sessions ignited a spark which
would engulf the Jazz world as Fourplay. Fourplay’s first
album was recorded and released in 1991. The Group would collaborate
on a total of three albums, until 1998 when Ritenour left the group,
and Larry Carlton took over. This version of Fourplay continued
the group’s huge success for seven more albums. After 12 years,
Carlton decided to delve further into his solo career, and the band
brought in guitarist Chuck Loeb in 2010.
A personal and professional highlight was the collaboration
with his daughter, Hilary, on their “Flesh & Blood”
album, which toured 15 U.S. cities. James continued collaborating
on separate projects with Earl Klugh, “Cool” and Kirk
Whalum “Joined At the Hip.” Both albums
were nominated for Grammys. His solo career continued
throughout the 90's, culminating with Joy Ride in 1999, and another
In 2001, Dancing On the Water, was released, once again showcasing
James’ creative versatility. The album includes performances
with Keiko Matsui, Joe Sample, Dave Holland, and Chuck Loeb. Fourplay
released Heartfelt in 2002, and spent much of the year touring across
the globe. That same year, James released Morning, Noon, & Night,
whose title track went to #1 in Contemporary Jazz Radio.
While appearing at New York’s Blue Note,
in February of 2003, James went into the Hit Factory with Billy
Kilson, James Genus, and Ken Freeman on the board. The result was
“Take It From the Top,” a tribute to pianists who inspired
James; Ahmad Jamal, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, and Oscar Peterson,
The very next year James was at it again, with
Fourplay releasing “Journey” in 2004. Fourplay toured
most of the year, culminating with a trip to South Africa in November
of 2005 and a final tour stop in Bangkok, Thailand in December.
This event featured the world premiere live performance of James’
“The Angels of Shanghai.” This project encompassed several
months in the Far East collaborating with students from the Shanghai
Conservatory of Music, who played ancient Chinese instruments, as
well as James Genus, Nathan East, and Harvey Mason. This project
finally toured the U.S. in 2007, and culminated with a performance
later in the year at the prestigious Seongnam Art Center in Seoul,
Korea, where James was also invited to have a solo exhibit of his
art in conjunction with the performance.
James stayed busy in 2006, releasing “Urban
Flamingo” in February, and on April 7, was awarded the George
Benson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards.
Summer saw the release of Fourplay’s tenth record, appropriately
called “X.” This tour literally took James around the
world again with stops in Spain, London, California, Hong Kong,
Japan, Kuala Lumpur, and Indonesia.
In 2008, James released a Christmas album with Hilary James, and
another Fourplay album “Energy.” “Energy”
featured Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding, and another Grammy nomination
with the first single, “Fortune Teller.” The year ended
on a high note with James and close friend, the Tony award winning
Broadway director Jack O’Brien, receiving the International
Achievement Award by the state of Michigan.
Bob James has maintained a commitment to sophisticated
production and arrangements, while stretching out in different and
new directions. This culminated with another busy year in 2009 with
the release of “The Very Best of Bob James.” Not stopping
there, James also released “Botero,” a collaboration
with Jack Lee, composed music for the Broadway play
‘Impressionism’, and recorded “Across
the Groove,” collaboration with Japanese sax player Masato
Honda, all in the same year. This again led James touring across
Asia, Europe, and the U.S.
2010 saw the twelfth Fourplay album released, “Let’s
Touch the Sky,” which led to another world tour, culminating
with an unforgettable collaboration with the New Japan Philharmonic
in Tokyo in December. This premiered new orchestral pieces arranged
specifically for this concert, and was Fourplay’s first performance
with a symphony orchestra. Fourplay was voted Best Group of the
Year at the American Smooth Jazz Awards to wrap up a busy 2010.
And in 2011, James jumped at the opportunity to
work on Jazz for Japan, a benefit album to aid the recovery of Japan
after the devastating natural disasters in early 2011. Fourplay
continued heavy touring in the far east, with James headlining a
special benefit concert in the Iwate prefecture of Japan raising
funds to aid with their recovery.