Since the quartet Fourplay released its first CD in 1991, it has become known as a solid, if rather uninspiring, smooth jazz band, playing mostly R&B-flavored pop while incorporating minimal jazz content.
This session, recorded for a brand new label, may surprise their longtime fans, as they've gotten a little more adventurous with their choice of material, though guest vocalist Clay Aiken isn't that far from their mold. Keyboardist Bob James composed three of the tracks, with two each from guitarist Larry Carlton and bassist Nathan East and drummer Harvey Mason penning "E. D. Blues."
The set list is sort of a suite, representing a single guy heading out on the town for the night looking for companionship. James' "Night on the Prowl" has an urban swagger, while Carlton's tender ballad "Do You, Miss September" will appeal to female listeners, especially with Aiken's vocal. What is particularly amusing is the way the CD ends, with instrumental versions of Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)" and Frank Zappa's "Ms. Pinky."
Track Listing: Night on the Prowl; Lady's Night; Do You Come Here Often?; Dance the Night Away, Do You, Miss September?; Slip Into Something Comfortable; E. D. Blues; Alone Again (Naturally); Ms. Pinky.
Personnel: Bob James: keyboards; Larry Carlton: electric guitar; Nathan East: electric bass; Harvey Mason: drums; Clay Aiken: vocals (Do You, Miss September?).
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.