BOB JAMES

Pop/Art Song/Folk / Fusion / Post Bop / Third Stream / Post-Fusion Contemporary / Hard Bop / Avant-Garde Jazz • United States
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The career of Bob James is long, varied and continues to evolve at every turn. From his first days in Marshall, Missouri, the music of Bob James has captivated audiences throughout the world.

Discovered by Quincy Jones at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival in 1963, James recorded his first solo album, Bold Conceptions, that year for Mercury Records. 58 albums and innumerable awards would follow through five decades. He honed his skills working with Creed Taylor, working on albums for artists like Hank Crawford, Grover Washington, Jr, among others. While with CTI, James found great popular success overseeing significant hits for Paul Simon, Neil Diamond, Maynard Ferguson, and Kenny Loggins.

In 1974, James finally recorded his own album, One, which launched a lifelong career of recording and performing live. After three more albums, James began his own label, Tappan Zee Records. This allowed James to spend more time in
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Double VisionDouble Vision
Warner Bros. 1990
$29.88
$1.48 (used)
Best ofBest of
Salvo 2009
$42.53
$53.94 (used)
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BOB JAMES Discography

BOB JAMES albums / top albums

BOB JAMES Bold Conceptions album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Bold Conceptions
Hard Bop 1962
BOB JAMES Explosions album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Explosions
Avant-Garde Jazz 1965
BOB JAMES One album cover 3.67 | 4 ratings
One
Fusion 1974
BOB JAMES Two album cover 3.09 | 2 ratings
Two
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1975
BOB JAMES Three album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Three
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1976
BOB JAMES BJ4 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
BJ4
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1977
BOB JAMES Heads album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Heads
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1977
BOB JAMES Touchdown album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Touchdown
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1978
BOB JAMES Lucky Seven album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Lucky Seven
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1979
BOB JAMES Bob James & Earl Klugh ‎: One On One album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Bob James & Earl Klugh ‎: One On One
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1979
BOB JAMES H album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
H
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1980
BOB JAMES Sign of the Times album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Sign of the Times
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1981
BOB JAMES Hands Down album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Hands Down
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1982
BOB JAMES The Genie: Themes & Variations From the TV Series 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Genie: Themes & Variations From the TV Series "Taxi"
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1983
BOB JAMES Foxie album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Foxie
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1983
BOB JAMES 12 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
12
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1984
BOB JAMES Rameau album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Rameau
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1984
BOB JAMES The Swan album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Swan
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1984
BOB JAMES Double Vision album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Double Vision
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1986
BOB JAMES Obsession album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Obsession
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1986
BOB JAMES Ivory Coast album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Ivory Coast
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1988
BOB JAMES The Scarlatti Dialogues album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Scarlatti Dialogues
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1988
BOB JAMES Grand Piano Canyon album cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Grand Piano Canyon
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1990
BOB JAMES Cool album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Cool
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1992
BOB JAMES Restless album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Restless
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1994
BOB JAMES Joined At The Hip(with Kirk Whalum) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Joined At The Hip(with Kirk Whalum)
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1996
BOB JAMES Straight Up album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Straight Up
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1996
BOB JAMES Playin Hooky album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Playin Hooky
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1997
BOB JAMES Joy Ride album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Joy Ride
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1999
BOB JAMES Dancing on the Water album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Dancing on the Water
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2001
BOB JAMES Morning, Noon & Night album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Morning, Noon & Night
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2002
BOB JAMES Take It From The Top album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Take It From The Top
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2003
BOB JAMES Urban Flamingo album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Urban Flamingo
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2006
BOB JAMES Angels of Shanghai album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Angels of Shanghai
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2007
BOB JAMES Bob James & Hilary James : Christmas Eyes album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Bob James & Hilary James : Christmas Eyes
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2008
BOB JAMES Altair & Vega (with  Keiko Matsui) album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Altair & Vega (with Keiko Matsui)
Third Stream 2011
BOB JAMES Quartette Humaine (and David Sanborn) album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Quartette Humaine (and David Sanborn)
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2013
BOB JAMES Alone: Kaleidoscope by Solo Piano album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Alone: Kaleidoscope by Solo Piano
Post Bop 2013
BOB JAMES Bob James and Nathan East : The New Cool album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Bob James and Nathan East : The New Cool
Post Bop 2015
BOB JAMES Bob James & Nancy Stagnitta : In the Chapel in the Moonlight album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Bob James & Nancy Stagnitta : In the Chapel in the Moonlight
Third Stream 2017
BOB JAMES Espresso album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Espresso
Post-Fusion Contemporary 2018

BOB JAMES EPs & splits

BOB JAMES live albums

BOB JAMES All Around the Town album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
All Around the Town
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1981
BOB JAMES Live at Milliken Auditorium album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live at Milliken Auditorium
Fusion 2015

BOB JAMES demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

BOB JAMES re-issues & compilations

BOB JAMES The Best of Bob James album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best of Bob James
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1996
BOB JAMES An Anthology album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
An Anthology
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2001
BOB JAMES Restoration: The Best of Bob James album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Restoration: The Best of Bob James
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2001
BOB JAMES The Essential Collection album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Essential Collection
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2002
BOB JAMES That Steamin' Feelin' album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
That Steamin' Feelin'
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2002
BOB JAMES One, Two, Three & BJ4: The Legendary Albums album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
One, Two, Three & BJ4: The Legendary Albums
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2003
BOB JAMES In Hi-Fi album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
In Hi-Fi
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2003
BOB JAMES The Very Best of Bob James album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Very Best of Bob James
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2009
BOB JAMES Rhodes Scholar: Jazz-funk Classics 1974-1982 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Rhodes Scholar: Jazz-funk Classics 1974-1982
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2013

BOB JAMES singles (0)

BOB JAMES movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live at Montreux
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2005

BOB JAMES Reviews

BOB JAMES Two

Album · 1975 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Sean Trane
Armed with a rather cute variant artwork of his previous solo album on its cover, Two is a fairly different animal, and it features the music genre BJ will become famous for: smooth jazz. Although it also contains elements of rock, soul, funk, the music is generally not very energetic, preferring to concentrate on finesse at the expense of excitement; and sometimes we’re not far away from muzak (also called fuzak) or elevator music. Ok, I’m overdoing it a tad, but it’s to make a point. Among BJ’s collabs on the present album are Gale, Gadd, Laws, Brecker, and a few more usual CTI label suspects, but an extended (almost 20) string section. In many ways, this is a typical mid-70’s Creed Taylor productions.

Opening on his famous Mardi Gras cover (Paul Simon, I believe), it sets the mood of the album, but it’s not one to excite a demanding music fan and the over-sweetish string arrangements makes it like a candy, mushy and sickeningly slick. Following up is the excellent I Feel A Song, an unstoppable soft funk piece with a superb catchy War-like chorus and Patti Austin’s superb vocals on the verses. You may actually know another version of this track, but probably not as good as this one. The Golden Apple is probably the album’s highlight, and maybe the only place really reminiscent of the previous One album, and Resnicoff’s excellent guitar solo brings even more substance, but the string section interventions overwhelm (and therefore under-whelms) the debates.

Another blatant shot at commercialism, the flipside opener Farandole gives a mildly exciting middle section with James’ excellent Rhodes solo (reminiscent of Brian Auger’s style), but the whole thing is a bit kitsch, especially the theme reprise with different instruments in the closing minutes, during which Farandole overstays its welcome. The whole thing is flawlessly played, but it lacks a dose of energy. Ditto for the following mid-tempo Right As Rain, but both tracks are still enjoyable and not quite as kitsch as the closing Dream Journey, which starts catastrophically bad, but again the middle section saves the day, before the strings ruin it again.

Although this album probably sold a lot more than its predecessor (and his Mardi Gras will be one of the most sampled tracks two decades later), it holds IMHO much less merits, partly because the commercial aspects are taking precedence over pure excitement and energy dispelled. It’s kind of album that your wife or girlfriend could appreciate to get comfy and snug, so you might want to consider the album, as it is cheaper than most aphrodisiacs, if you are able to forget on not be too hard-on its kitschness.

BOB JAMES One

Album · 1974 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Sean Trane
After over a decade of solo work silence (Bob James played in Sarah Vaughan’s backing band for most of the late 60’s), Bob James came back around the middle of the 70’s with a very different aesthetics than his previous two album of the early 60’s, then had gone to become a demanded session player in the early 70’s, which is probably how he ended up in Creed Taylor’s musical environment. A rather simplistic but impressive artwork featuring a bronze door-ornament graces BJ’s first solo album, where you’ll find many of his future collabs, like Gadd, Resnicoff, Friedman, Grover Jr, Thad Jones and more.

Opening on the exciting almost 10-mins Valley Of The Shadow, we are confronted with a wild progressive JR/F with excitement, drama and some limit-kitsch but enthralling brass arrangements. Further down the album, Soulero opens on a kind of bolero (Ravel’s comes to mind), but the musical thread slowly changes, because the arrangements and BJ’s Rhodes add an unusual touch. Great stuff. Even more daring is the Moussorgsky piece Bald Mountain that sounds as bold as Emerson Lake & Palmer’s version, but not as much as Tomita’s, but the music breaks into a great Rhodes-led studio jam in its second half. The soft mid-tempo slightly funky but brass-less cover of Feel Like Making Love marks a bit of a pause between steaming-hot tracks, slightly reminiscent of the softer Oblivion Express tracks. The closing Nautilus track is one of BJ’s better-known number, partly because it got sampled by many artistes in the late 80’s, including, I believe, Run-DMC. Within the first few seconds, the bass riff emerges from the slightly-chaotic keyboard and we’re embarking on superb 20 000 leagues trip above the stratosphere. Too bad the album is so short really, just clocking above the half-hour mark.

Unfortunately, the album is “plagued” with the sore-thumbed In The Garden cover, and despite some interesting jazzy rearrangements, it still sounds like bad country piece, partly due to Weissberg’s pedal steel guitar and McCracken’s harmonica, further plagued by overwhelming (but ultimately under-whelming) string arrangements. That track is really the only lesser moment of an otherwise close-to-perfection album. Soooooo, with the present album, we’re not yet in the smooth-jazz mould that would become BJ’s trademark, but we’re definitely still in the cool JR/F realm that was making the early 70’s so special.

BOB JAMES One

Album · 1974 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Chicapah
Bob James is one of those talented, determined musicians that had to gradually work their way up the ladder by paying a lot of dues. After earning a masters degree in composition from the University of Michigan in ’62 he was discovered at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival by Quincy Jones. Soon after that he signed with Mercury records and stayed just long enough to make his first solo album. It failed to sell so he accepted a gig arranging for the legendary Sarah Vaughan for almost 5 years before ending up scoring shows on Broadway where he cultivated a fair reputation for himself. Still friends, his pal Quincy eventually recommended him to Creed Taylor who hired him for his CTI label as a session cat and arranger for jazz greats like Hubert Laws, Grover Washington, Jr., Stanley Turrentine, Hank Crawford, Ron Carter, Eric Gale and Johnny Hammond. Ten years after his debut LP flopped, Taylor gave Bob James another shot at doing his own thing and the result is “One.”

He opens with one of his self-penned tunes, “Valley of the Shadows.” After James’ eerie, echoing Rhodes piano stealthily creeps in Steve Gadd’s slightly tribal tom-tom patterns appear and bright, brassy horns rain down on you from out of nowhere. The rhythm section consisting of Gadd and bassist Gary King then lays down a complex track that compliments Bob’s skittish, scat-like electric piano ride. Guitarist Richie Resnicoff’s solo is appropriately weird and I must point out that Steve’s drumming is, as usual, spectacular all through this adventurous number. A thrilling, trumpet-heavy segment follows before Grover Washington, Jr. slices and dices the smoke-filled air with his fluid soprano saxophone. What comes as the most delightful surprise, however, is the sudden intrusion of a large horn ensemble performing a jazzed-up version of the Doxology during the finale. It’s definitely a strange twist from out of the blue but it works in an eclectic sort of way. “In the Garden” is next and it offers a drastic, 180-degree change of aural climate. Based on Pachelbel’s eternally popular “Canon in D” melody, cleverly arranged and adapted by James, it owns a country tinge due to Eric Weissberg’s pedal steel, a contemporary flavor due to the lush orchestral strings and a touch of Americana due to Hugh McCracken’s harmonica. Two cuts in and it’s apparent that a lack of variety is not a problem on this album. “Soulero,” Bob’s cool jazz take on the traditional bolero structure, has some discernable yet tasty funk influences involved. Washington’s soprano sax soars and James’ Rhodes piano in particular is intriguing during the build up to the inevitable climax but it’s Gadd’s fiery drums that steal the show. He is a master craftsman behind the kit every time he picks up the sticks.

The principal reason for my buying this record was James’ rendering of Modeste Moussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain,” a symphonic piece I’ve always adored. In the 70s I had become fascinated with the juxtaposition of dynamic classical themes and modern jazz. Don Sebesky had done it with Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” and Deodato had hit a home run with Strauss’ dramatic “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” Both of those successful experiments mesmerized me so I couldn’t help myself when I saw this one listed on the cover. Steve and percussionist Ralph MacDonald supply the sturdy backbone while Bob’s extended Rhodes ride is hot as blazes. The crisp horns are punchy, King’s bass lines are stunning and the whole arrangement is air tight. Let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed. Gene McDaniels’ “Feel Like Making Love” is next and it sounds very much like the flowing track that made Roberta Flack’s cover a major hit single for a logical reason. The same session players are involved, including Idris Muhammad on drums. It’s an easy-rolling instrumental rendition with no detours of note but it erects a sensuous, romantic aura around itself. While it may be a bit too cocktail lounge-ish for some, it does have its practical place and usefulness in certain man/woman situations if you know what I mean and I think you do. The album ends with “Nautilus,” a slice of light contemporary jazz that features more of the rich tones emanating from James’ Rhodes. His acumen on the instrument is well worth soaking in as if a warm bath for the full five minutes and the ethereal string score adds just enough mystery to make it engaging. Interesting trivial tidbit: Just recently I read that this song is one of the most sampled in hip hop history. Go figure.

Bob James went on to do many great things in his career, working in conjunction with some of the best in the business. Listening to where he began to put his personalized, individual stamp on jazz music shows why. It’s nothing earth-shaking but that’s one of the charms of jazz. It doesn’t have to rattle the foundations of terra firma to be of high quality and a source of lasting enjoyment. “One” is exactly the kind of record that I’m happy I have in my collection because sometimes it’s precisely what I want to listen to.

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