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Philadelphia, PA: Fourplay - Bob James, Harvey Mason, Nathan East, Chuck Loeb @ Keswick Theatre (Jun 25, 8:00pm)
Fourplay - Bob James * Harvey Mason * Chuck Loeb * Nathan East
Jun 25 • 8:00pm @ the Keswick
Price: $29.50, $36.50 & $46.50
Folks this is one of my favorite artists, going way back to even before there was such an entity called Fourplay. Remember that AWESOME series of albums back in the 70's on the CTI label from MR. BOB JAMES (ONE, TWO and THREE?) Those albums stayed in constant rotation in my college dorm room as well as in my car stereo. Obviously I wasn't alone. Not only did you consistantly hear the music of Bob James in the mass media (Remember the theme song to the TV show "TAXI?") but the sounds was sooooo damn funky that it became one of the underlying musical components in many of the hip hop songs that we would late hear in the 80's and 90's. For example did you know that my favorite Bob James song from that era ("Nautilus" from the album "ONE") is sampled on nearly 200 hip hop soongs? Some examples are; Beats to the Rhyme by Run-DMC (1988), Children's Story by Slick Rick (1988), Follow the Leader by Eric B. & Rakim (1988), 99 Problems (El-P Remix) by Jay Z (2008) and many many more. His influence in Hip Hop is so widespread that most music historians consider Bob James to be one of the "Godfather's of Hip Hop," and I would agree with them!
Obviously when you go to the Keswick on June 25th to seee Fourplay - Bob James * Harvey Mason * Chuck Loeb * Nathan East, you won't be hearing any hip hop music. I just wanted to mention the above to provide a little bit of historical perspective. Scroll down further to read their complete biography.
What you will hear is some of the SLAMMINIST JAZZ/FUNK available in 2014 interspersed with some of the most beautiful & romantic music that you can possibly find today. All broght to you by Fourplay, featuring the wold class musicianship of Bob James + Harvey Mason + Chuck Loeb + Nathan East!
I have seen Fourplay in the past at the Keswick, a venue where the great acoustics and great sightlines from any seat in the joint, make the greatness of Fourplay, just that much more spectacular of an over all experience!
I hope to see your face in the place on Jun 25 • 8:00pm @ the Keswick!!!
Scroll down further to read the complete biography of Fourplay....
Fourplay - Bob James * Harvey Mason * Chuck Loeb * Nathan East, Jun 25 • 8:00pm @ the Keswick
Bio - Fourplay
For two decades, the contemporary jazz quartet known as Fourplay has enjoyed consistent artistic and commercial success by grafting elements of R&B, pop and a variety of other sounds to their unwavering jazz foundations. In the course of a dozen recordings - six of which have climbed to the top of Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Album charts - the supergroup has continued to explore the limitless dimensions and permutations of jazz while at the same time appealing to a broad mainstream audience.
The Fourplay story begins in 1990, with keyboardist Bob James, who had already established himself as a formidable figure in keyboard jazz - not just as an instrumentalist but as a composer and arranger as well - with solo recordings dating as far back as the mid 1960s. In 1990, James reunited with his old friend, session drummer, producer, composer & recording artist Harvey Mason (Herbie Hancock, Barbra Streisand, Notorious Big), during the recording of James' Grand Piano Canyon album. Also involved in the project were guitarist Lee Ritenour (Sergio Mendes) and bassist/vocalist Nathan East (Barry White, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins).
The Grand Piano Canyon sessions marked the genesis of the group that eventually came to be known as Fourplay. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1991, and included a blend of jazz, R&B and pop.
The original lineup of James/Ritenour/East/Mason stayed together for three successive albums, including Elixir (1994), a set that features some high-profile guest vocalists: Phil Collins, Patti Austin and Peabo Bryson. East also delivers some noteworthy vocal contributions on Elixir, and has continued to do so throughout most of Fourplay's subsequent studio outings.
Ritenour, whose guitar work in tandem with James' keyboards served as the cornerstone of the early Fourplay sound, left the lineup in the mid-1990s and was replaced by Larry Carlton (The Crusaders, Joni Mitchell, Quincy Jones). Carlton made his first studio appearance with the band with the release of 4 in 1998. 4 included compositions by all four members, as well as an impressive crew of guest vocalists: El Debarge, Babyface Edmonds, Kevyn Lettau and Shanice.
Following the 1999 release of Snowbound, a mix of traditional and contemporary holiday songs, Fourplay shook things up a bit with Yes Please!, an album that challenged the standard definitions of contemporary jazz by incorporating elements of blues, funk and even Celtic music. JazzTimes critic Hilarie Grey called Yes Please! "an expansive album that incorporates each artist's strengths, and in the process travels in some unexpected directions." Grey added: "Yes Please! works where similar projects fail simply because it lets its artists play, without imposing artificial boundaries."
The sense of experimentation continued with the 2002 release of Heartfelt. The material in this set emerged from a series of improvisational performances that were assembled into full compositions. As a result, the tunes have less clearly defined melodies, but the overall album is both exploratory and accessible at the same time.
Journey, released in 2004, is a laid-back affair, but complex at the same time. Consistent with Fourplay's eclectic philosophy, Journey incorporates a range of stylistic elements - as evidenced by such high points as the delicate cover of the 1993 Sting hit "Fields of Gold" and the Mason bossa nova flavored "Rozil."
X followed in 2006, with guest vocals by blue-eyed-soul icon Michael McDonald, who delivers an inspired rendition of Steve Winwood's "My Loves Leavin'." JazzTimes called X "a softly funky, superbly crafted and unapologetically low-key album."
FFourplay joined the prestigious roster of artists on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, with the 2008 release of Energy, which spent three consecutive weeks at the top of Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart. The album grafts a variety of sounds - R&B, pop, African and more - to Fourplay's unwavering jazz foundations. In addition to vocals by East, Energy features a vocal track by bassist Esperanza Spalding.
After 12 years with the group, Carlton left in April 2010 to delve further into his solo career, and the band welcomed its newest member, multi-faceted virtuoso guitarist, Chuck Loeb. His musical contributions undoubtedly enhance the creativity and pursuit of excellence Fourplay has enjoyed in the studio and on the stage.
Loeb made his debut with the quartet on Let's Touch The Sky, released in October 2010. The album also includes thrilling performances by guest vocalists Anita Baker and Ruben Studdard. The infusion of new blood into the Fourplay lineup created an opportunity to bring an even higher level of energy and inspiration into a band that is already known for taking chances and pushing the limits of contemporary jazz.
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