Fourplay is back in business with album number four. This time former Crusader Larry Carlton joins up with Bob James, Harvey Mason and Nathan East to deliver another splendid collection of smooth jazz penned by the group members themselves.
This time Lee Ritenour has opted out but Larry Carlton is a more than capable replacement and contributes two of the compositions on '4'. His wife Michelle adds her velvet vocal touch alongside Harvey Junior/s wife Heather.
El Debarge (who can forget his vocal on the Debarge classic 'All this love ') Babyface Edmonds, Shanice and Kevyn Lettau also join the band for '4', the former delivering an excellent rendition of Marvin's masterpiece 'Sexual healing' from 1982.
This has all the trimmings of a Fourplay album with guitar and piano riffs mingling with soft vocals to exotic and clever rhythms.
Larry Carlton's contributions 'Charmed I'm sure' and 'Swamp jazz' are right out of Carlton's top drawer , the man seems to slide all his notes in two chord structures. This distinctive style was prevalent on his 1996 outing 'The Gift'.
The killer cut on a wonderful album is 'Someone to love' which is a slow piano/guitar smoocher with excellent incidental vocals from Babyface Edmonds, Nathan East and Shanice ( I sure like your smile ) Wilson.
One of the great 'unsung hero' composers of the CJAZZ scene is Harvey Mason who has written three of the albums ten tracks including the 'Hill Street Blues' type cut entitled 'Slow slide', a late night trip to the midnight hour. Harvey has been all aross the waterfront in a glittering career but is more renowned for his rhythmical contribution. This clearly highlights his all round musical ability which is similar to his contemporary Alphonse Mouzon.
All in all, no real surprises here but definitely a 'Must Have' item to any smooth jazz fans collection.
Jazz Site Rating - 9 outa 10
Record Label: Warner Bros.