Bob James To Headlines 2016 Stanbic Jazz Festival In Accra
Bob James, the two-time Grammy Award winner and smooth jazz keyboardist is the main act for this year’s Stanbic Jazz Festival scheduled for the Accra International Conference Center, June 24-26, 2016.
James is recognized as one of the forebears of smooth jazz. Two of his songs – “Nautilus” from 1974’s One and “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” from 1975’s Two – are among the most sampled in hip hop history.
Renowned for the complexity of his arrangements and instrumentals, the career of Bob James is long, varied and continues to evolve at every turn. From his days in Marshall, Missouri, the music of Bob James has captivated audiences throughout the world.
Within a year of his discovery by Quincy Jones at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival in 1963, James recorded his first solo album, Bold Conceptions, for Mercury Records. Fifty-eight albums and innumerable awards have followed in the last five decades.
He worked with artists like Hank Crawford, Grover Washington, Paul Simon, Neil Diamond, Maynard Ferguson, and Kenny Loggins.
While recording his album, Grand Piano Canyon, in 1990, James reunited with longtime friend, drummer Harvey Mason, Jr. It would also be the first time James would work with guitarist Lee Ritenour, and bassist Nathan East. This would be the start of something beautiful, as these early sessions ignited a spark which would engulf the Jazz world as Fourplay. Fourplay’s first album was recorded and released in 1991. The Group would collaborate on a total of three albums, until 1998 when Ritenour left the group, and Larry Carlton took over.
A personal and professional highlight was the collaboration with his daughter, Hilary, on their Flesh & Blood album, which toured 15 U.S. cities. James continued collaborating on separate projects with Earl Klugh, (Cool) and Kirk Whalum (Joined At the Hip).
Fourplay released Heartfelt in 2002, and spent much of the year touring across the globe. That same year, James released Morning, Noon, & Night, whose title track went to #1 in Contemporary Jazz Radio.
Take It From the Top was released in February of 2003. It is a tribute to pianists who inspired James; Ahmad Jamal, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, and Oscar Peterson, among others.
Fourplay toured most of the following year, culminating with a trip to South Africa in November of 2005 and a final tour stop in Bangkok, Thailand in December. This event featured the world premiere live performance of James’ ‘The Angels of Shanghai.’
James was awarded the George Benson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards in April 2006
In 2008, James and close friend, the Tony award winning Broadway director Jack O’Brien, received the International Achievement Award from the state of Michigan.
2010 saw the twelfth Fourplay album released, Let’s Touch the Sky, which led to another world tour, culminating with an unforgettable collaboration with the New Japan Philharmonic in Tokyo in December. Fourplay was voted Best Group of the Year at the American Smooth Jazz Awards to wrap up a busy 2010.
2011 brought devastating natural disasters to Japan, and James, with a close relationship to the region wanted to contribute to the relief efforts. This led to the Jazz for Japan benefit album, and the Iwate benefit concert, headlined by James.
Then, in September 2011, James received the Oasis Contemporary jazz award for ‘Group of the Year’. He was also honored in his hometown of Marshall, MO, with the inaugural ‘Bob James Jazz Festival’.
Fourplay joined forces again the following year with the release of Esprit de Four. The album hit the charts, producing several successful tracks, including the powerful “Put Our Hearts Together”, which featured vocals by Seiko Matsuda.
In 2013 Quartette Humaine was released. This was the first creative collaboration between keyboardist-composer Bob James and alto saxophonist David Sanborn since their million-selling, Grammy-winning album,Double Vision, twenty-five years ago.
2015 brought the release of James’ first live album, Live at the Milliken Auditorium, which was captured on a magical night in his home town of Traverse City, Michigan. This same year also brought the first release from James and Nathan East, The New Cool, a masterful work of art which truly redefines the essence of cool. Still not finished, James and Fourplay came together for the release of the group’s 25th anniversary, with Silver, which was recorded old school at Sunset Sound Studios, where the group recorded their first album 25 years earlier.
About: Kelly Faisal
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