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There's no doubt that Fourplay is, collectively, one of the most talent-laden ensembles in contemporary jazz today. But their output to date, while always accessible to the masses, has alternated between interesting, worthwhile comtempo fare (their eponymous debut CD and their third release, Elixir ) and more watered-down, commercially-oriented "smooth jazz" ( Between the Sheets and 4 ). On their latest CD Yes, Please! , we get some of each. The disc gets off to a promising start with "Free Range," "Double Trouble," and "Robo Bop" - the breezy melodies are supported with some interesting harmonies and creative background fills (Bob James trademarks) and some good group interplay. Larry Carlton's pensive, singing guitar caresses the lines of the ballad "Once Upon a Love." Carlton displays his bluesier side on "Blues Force," though James' solo seems stilted and awkward.
The disc's radio offerings, however, reach new lows in sterile banality. Female background vocalists seductively coo "Save Some Love for Me (Tonight)" repeatedly over a plodding drum loop. The saccharine seduction resumes on "A Little Foreplay."
Throughout this disc, mellow is the word. The tempos range from slow to medium, and the dynamics rarely reach above mezzoforte. While the musicianship is impeccable and there are interesting touches here and there, it's a very relaxed, placid outing. (Warner Bros. 47694)
Track Listing: Free Range; Double Trouble; Once Upon a Love; Robo Bop; Blues Force; Save Some Love for Me; Fortress; Go With Your Heart; Poco A Poco; A Little Foreplay; Lucky. (63:17)
Personnel: Bob James, keyboards; Larry Carlton, guitar; Nathan East, bass; Harvey Mason, drums; Sherree, vocal on "A Little Foreplay"
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.