Bob James = The Essential Collection (24 smooth jazz classics) — Koch Records

by | Sep 9, 2005 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Bob James = The Essential Collection (24 smooth jazz classics) — Koch Records (2 CDs) KOC-CD 9944 ****:

Generally I find the smooth jazz genre today to translate as snooze
jazz.  Pianist Bob James, however, is an exception for his good
taste and creativity, plus the fact that he was doing this sort of
light jazz fusion back in the 70s before there were smooth jazz radio
stations throughout the country. James’ albums for CTI’s Creed Taylor
were prime examples of good-selling music that was good-listening for
both jazz fans as well those who think Kenny G is the last word in fine
music. James’ classically-oriented tracks interested me the most, but
he also had an attractive approach to funk jazz and his solo piano
tracks were superb.

The two-dozen tracks on these two discs (about 74 minutes on each)
encompass all of the above and more. The eight-page booklet has a
sizeable paragraph on each of the tracks (but put on your best reading
glasses — a magnifying glass wouldn’t hurt either). Some of my personal
favs:  Women of Ireland — used in Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon
soundtrack and simply transporting.  Farandole — another classical
source; Bizet this time. Shepherd’s Song — a lovely arrangement of a
traditional tune, featuring not just James’ grand piano but also an
acoustic guitar. Marco Polo — starts with military-type fanfares but
melds into a fascinating and explorative composition.  Sonics are
just about as good as I recall from the CTI originals on my high end
turntable, which is not an easy task.

CD1: Night on Bald Mt., Feel Like Makin’ Love, Nautilus, Farandole,
Take Me to the Mardi Gras, Women of Ireland, Westchester Lady, Where
the Wind Blows Free, Heads, Night Crawler, Kari.

CD2: Angela (Taxi theme), Touchdown, Blue Lick, Shepherd’s Song,
Thoroughbred, Reunited, Sign of the Times, Spunky, Miranda, Marco Polo,
Ruby Ruby Ruby, Ensenada Madness, Brooklyn Heights Boogie.

– John Henry

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