Bob Jameskeyboardist, pianist, composer and arrangeropens Feel Like Making Live!
with his original tune, "Angela (Theme From 'Taxi')." Everyone has heard itthat is what exposure from a popular television show can do. That series ran from 1978 to 1983. Taxi
music, along with his albums on Creed Taylor's CTI Records during this time, in addition to his taking on arranging chores for the label, for the likes of saxophonist Stanley Turrentine
, vibraphonist Milt Jackson
, saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. and more, made a name for James. So, a short history of a sixty year career: his first album, Bold Conceptions
(Mercury Records) released in 1963, fifty or so more albums followed, a dozen with his group Fourplay
; his contribution to hip hop via sampling of his recordings, and finally coming around now to a trio offeringa mode of making music he calls ..."a perfect way that I can express myself" with Feel Like making Live!
, an audio/visual experience that includes, along with the CD, a Blue Ray disc of James and his trio performing in the studio.
After "Angela" leaves, James and the trio take on Elton John, with "Rocket Man." Laying aside the goofy lyrics of the tune, and hearing it in a purer form, reveals the accessible loveliness of the melody. And that is a trademark of James' approachfinding the beauty of a tune, then putting his stamp on it, via embellishment with lush and polished arrangements, or using subtle adjustments and "just" a trio to make his mark.
Also included are "Misty," written and made famous by Erroll Garner, and a Clint Eastwood movie; "Feel Like Makin' Love,'' written by Eugene McDaniels
and covered by Roberta Flack and then Bob James in 1974again, a pop tune turned into an engaging jazz listening experience. Marcus Miller
's "Maputo" is here, and "Downtown," made famous by Petula Clark; Miles Davis
' "Nardi" and a couple of handfuls of James more popular originals: "Westchester Lady," "Topside," "Angela" (of course), "Avilabop..."
For an artist who made a good part of his name with lush, broad-stroke arrangements and polished production that earned him a "smooth jazzer" tag (sometimes employed derisively, by people who don't know their hindquarters from a hole in the ground in regards to James' sound), a lot of late career trio work from Bob James is showing up. 2018 saw the release of Expresso
(Evosound Records); and in 2021 Once Upon A Time: The Lost 1965 New York Studio Sessions
(Resonance Records) was released, looking back at James' early days. He started his jazz journey with a trio, and with Feel Like Making Live!
he returns to it. Put in the strings and intricate horns, charts and keyboards, and Bob James makes beautiful music. Pare it down to the trio, and he does the same thing.
And the Blue-Ray: This captures James and company in a spacious studio in warm lighting, the leader's electric and acoustic keyboards set at right angles so he can play them simultaneously, offering an intimate "in the room with them" listening experience.
Angela; Rocket Man; Maputo; Topside; Misty; Avalabop; Nautilus; Downtown; Niles A Head; Feel Like Makin'
Love/Nightcrawler; Submarine; Mister Magic; Nardis; Westchester Lady.
Bob James: electric keyboards.
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