364

Fourplay: Let's Touch the Sky

Jeff Winbush By

Sign in to view read count
For Fourplay, it's all a numbers game. 2011 marks the band's 20th anniversary, Let's Touch the Sky is their 12th album, and "new guy," Chuck Loeb is both Fourplay's third personnel change and third guitarist replacing Larry Carlton, who stepped in for Lee Ritenour in 1998.

Personnel changes in long-established bands happen when a disgruntled member bolts over the dreaded "creative differences" or out of necessity, as when Carlton decided to return to his solo career. When it was Carlton's turn as the new guy on 4 (Warner Bros., 1998), there was a consistency in sound between his playing and Ritenour's. It wasn't until 2002's Heartfelt (Bluebird) that Carlton seemed to truly settle in as an equal partner with keyboardist Bob James, bassist Nathan East and drummer Harvey Mason.

Loeb has the advantage of appearing on several of James' solo albums, and that familiarity serves him well, as his guitar is featured early on his own "3rd Degree." Loeb's style meshes well with the signature Fourplay radio friendly tunes, but his playing is noticeably funkier than Carlton, and his familiarity with James would seem to indicate his period of adjustment into this supergroup will be a relatively quick one.

The introduction of new blood surprises on Let's Touch the Sky, with "Golden Faders" being seven minutes worth of swinging and sizzling, as if the band was just enjoying jamming too much to stop. James dedicates "Gentle Giant" to the great Hank Jones, who passed away in May, 2010, and is driven by James, with an unexpected assist from East on acoustic bass.

More familiar are the East vocal showcase, "I'll Still Be Lovin' You," while a subtle contribution from Anita Baker makes "You're My Thrill" gently sparkle like sunlight on water. Usually it's just asking for trouble to even try to cover an R&B classic like "Love TKO," that weaker singers than Teddy Pendergrass fear to even attempt; but American Idol winner Ruben Studdard's version honors the original while updating it. It's one of the bold and unexpected surprises of Let's Touch the Sky.

Changes in personnel can be leading indicators of a band reaching the end of the line. Not this time. If anything James, Mason and East seem invigorated by their new playmate. Loeb is a perfect fit, and with his addition to the group as both a composer and player, Fourplay is well situated to continue on both artistically and commercially as a force with which to be reckoned.

Track Listing: Let's Touch the Sky; 3rd Degree; More Than A Dream; Pineapple Getaway; I'll Still Be Lovin' You; Gentle Giant (for Hank); A Night in Rio; Love TKO; Above and Beyond; Golden Faders; You're My Thrill.

Personnel: Bob James: keyboards; Nathan East: bass and vocals; Chuck Loeb: guitars; Harvey Mason: drums and percussion; Ruben Studdard: vocals (8); Anita Baker: vocals (11).

Title: Let's Touch the Sky | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Heads Up International


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Threes" CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 14, 2017
Read "As The Wind" CD/LP/Track Review As The Wind
by John Eyles
Published: January 12, 2017
Read "The Authorized Bang Collection" CD/LP/Track Review The Authorized Bang Collection
by Doug Collette
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Reflection" CD/LP/Track Review Reflection
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 14, 2017
Read "Hank Mobley" CD/LP/Track Review Hank Mobley
by Greg Simmons
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "92 Years Young: Jammin' At The Gibbs House" CD/LP/Track Review 92 Years Young: Jammin' At The Gibbs House
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 5, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor